The commercial exhibition of wild animals in America began with the display of bears and deer and mountain lions captured by hunters and farmers and shown in rural taverns. The dancing bear, on a leash and muzzled, is an apt symbol of this phase of such shows. Exotic animals were introduced here by merchant seamen who purchased monkeys and parrots and other small types as pets in foreign ports. Larger animals were imported as infants. The first elephant brought to America was a calf that arrived in 1796. Two tiger cubs were brought from Seurat in India by a sea captain in 1806.
For larger animals to be exhibited it was necessary for a showman to exist, someone with the time and patience to see to the health and welfare of the beast. The exhibitor had to be free to go from village to village, arranging exhibitions in stables and inns. An entrance fee was charged, often as simply as passing a hat, and when the residents of an area no longer came to see the attraction, the showman moved to the next place.
A list of the first exhibits of various species would include a lion (1720); a camel (1721); polar bear (1733); leopard (1768); jaguar (1788); orang-utan (1789); buffalo (1792); catamount (1793); ostrich (1794); elephant (1796); sea lion (1796); cassowary (1800); and zebra (1805). These individual animals were all the subject of advertisements; there might have been others for which no notices were used.
Later, pairs of animals were carried about the country, two dromedaries in 1805-1809; a lion and lioness in 1816-1818; and a pair of alligators in 1821.
In chronicling the traveling menageries we have arbitrarily settled upon a definition of three animals of different species. The first such is found in 1813, though individual animals, especially elephants, were displayed for many years after that time. Gradually, the number of animals in these shows increased from the original three of 1813 to over a hundred in some collections of the 1830s.
In this paper we list forty-one menageries in the years 1813- 1834. It is possible we have found no advertising for another five or six, but we may have also counted one or two of them as separate shows that were in reality continuations of others in the list. The pluses and minuses of these contingencies would probably stabilize the picture at near to forty companies.
In 1835, the Zoological Institute absorbed all the menageries in the country - there were sixteen extant in 1834 - and ended the first phase of individual management. We give a brief history of that monopoly in our final entry (42).
The Zoological Institute failed in 1837 and from then until the 1850s almost all the animal exhibits in the country were controlled by just two firms. By then, the circus and menagerie had been merged and with one or two exceptions each season the menagerie business had ceased to thrive.
The information in this paper came almost exclusively from advertising and thus is a result of newspaper survival. Some letters and diaries have been of benefit, a few handbills and posters were found, but for the most part we learned where the menageries went and what animals they offered from the newspaper advertisements.
The author is primarily a circus historian and had no intention of writing a menagerie history when he embarked on this research. The news of animal shows is what he found, not what he was seeking. For that reason, this cannot be considered a definitive work on the commercial exhibition of animals.
(1) MUSEUM OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1813-1815
This is the first traveling menagerie of which we have record. In July, 1813, a tiger, an African ape and a marmoset were advertised in Washington D. C. The title, which wasn’t used until 1814, reflects contemporary usage, in which a collection of anything was termed a museum.
The tiger was the survivor of two that arrived in Boston in 1806. He was said to weigh four hundred pounds and had come originally from Seurat. African ape might have been any of several types; a good guess would be that it was a Barbary ape.
They journeyed west in 1814, visiting Pittsburgh, Chillicothe, Cincinnati and Louisville. If the tiger was caged, which seems likely, the proprietor would need one wagon to carry his little show. They spoke of good music on the organ and violin, which would seem to mean that there were two or three attendants.
The menagerie was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and at 7:30 visitors could watch as the tiger was fed ten pounds of meat. The feeding ritual became quite popular with menagerie audiences and was often mentioned in advertisements.
The caravan wintered in Philadelphia in 1815-1816. By February, 1816, a cougar and a cammot had been added. What a cammot was, we don’t know.
In May, 1816, in Boston, the title of this company was changed. We continue its history under (4).
(2) MR. BURY, 1814-1815
We have no idea who this gentleman was. He advertised a small collection of animals in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1814, and in Cincinnati in 1815. The first year he listed a cassowary, a “Simla Papia,” and African apes. The Simla Papia (more properly “Papio”) was probably a baboon. In the second year he said he had the cassowary, a Barbary ape, and an African ape.
(3) MENAGERIE, 1815
This caravan made its only advertised appearance, according to present knowledge, on Market Street in Baltimore in July, 1815. It is inconceivable that it did not show in other cities, but nothing has come to light.
The collection consisted of a “male cougar from Brazil,” a coatimundi, a “sajou,” (sapajou), a female baboon and a talapoin. The cougar was said to be the largest of the tiger kind ever brought to this country. It was three feet tall and eight feet long and we suspect it was a jaguar.
(4) GRAND, RICH AND RARE COLECT10N OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1816-1821
To call this generic name a title is stretching things a bit, yet it is all we have to work with. The name was at the head of each advertisement. The new title was first used in Boston in May, 1816. By this time the original three animals had been joined by three others, including a llama, which they later said was a guanaco. Even later, they advertised it as a guanaco or llama, indicating their confusion. It is more likely that they had the domesticated rather than the wild form. In Salem, Massachusetts, in July they revealed that the other two animals were a buffalo (bison) and an anteater. Ten animals were exhibited in Providence, Rhode Island, in August, viz: tiger, guanaco, ape, buffalo, anteater, five monkeys.
The marmoset was not listed, but reappeared, or a replacement did, in Philadelphia in December, 1817. It is not unusual to find animals advertised in one city and not in the next. The person purchasing the ad or the printer might leave one out. Handwritten orders could be misread or misinterpreted. This sort of error persisted as long as type was hand set. Only a collection of ads from several cities can assure a true result.
The tiger died sometime in 1818; he was gone by October, when the first notices for that year are found. He had been on view in this country for twelve years, five of them with this menagerie. It would be another six years before another of his kind was advertised.
In New Haven, Connecticut, in October, 1818, a lion had replaced the tiger and the menagerie offered: lion, guanaco, African ape, Guinea lady (an ape), marmoset, two dromedaries.
From the time of the acquisition of the two camels it is relatively easy to trace the movements of this caravan. The camels had been exhibited as a pair in Philadelphia in February, 1818, and were probably leased to the “Grand, Rich and Rare.”
The African ape was trained to dance and walk the tightrope; the marmoset was able to ride the guanaco about the exhibition space. In December, 1818, a brown sapajou was added.
In Washington, D. C. in March, 1819, the exhibit was identified as belonging to a Mr. Brown. Several members of a Brown family of Westchester County, New York, were in outdoor exhibitions in the 1830s, but all of them would have been too young to be this man.
The animals were on exhibit continually through 1819, 1820 and 1821. With the exception of an ocelot added in 1820, the list remained unchanged, though specific replacements might have been made. Their usual practice was to spend the winters on exhibition in larger cities and the summers traveling in the hinterlands. Most large menageries adopted this mode of business in the years to follow.
In December, 1821, the “Grand, Rich and Rare,” moved into Baltimore for the winter. Here they were joined by Tippoo Sultan, one of the three elephants then in the country. When they left the city in April Tippoo Sultan accompanied them and thus this menagerie became the first one to have an elephant travel with it. Some elephants had wintered with animal shows in the past, but never had one taken to the road.
Tippoo Sultan had arrived in Boston in June, 1821, and been exhibited by himself for the six months prior to this affiliation. The title in 1822 was sometimes “Great American Caravan of Living Animals,” and sometimes “Great American Menagerie,” but is best known over the years as “Grand Caravan with Tippoo Sultan.” We will comment on its further history under (12).
(5) WILD BEASTS, 1816-1818
In an incident during the War of 1812, the U. S. S. Constitution intercepted a British frigate and found in its cargo two jaguars destined as presents for the Prince Regent. These were taken as prizes and presumably auctioned. They were exhibited in Baltimore in August, 1816, under the title “Wild Beasts.” Other animals accompanied them, including a bear and an elk, “tame enough to be led around the ring.” Menageries didn’t erect rings this early; they happened to be exhibiting in the George Street circus building. It was with the advent of the riding monkeys in 1820 that rings were built, much as they were in the circus. The bear and the elk were quite likely the property of someone other than the menagerie proprietor as they appear again in our numbers (6) and (9).
Using the title “Brazilian Tigers,” the two jaguars were exhibited by themselves in Norfolk and Charleston in early 1817. We think, without proof, that these animals belonged to John Miller of Easton, Pennsylvania, who joined Mr. Brown and Mr. Bury as our earliest identified menagerie operators.
Other individuals’ names come to light prior to 1817, but all of them were touring with single or paired animals. In 1802, a man by the name of Othello Pollard exhibited a leopard; in 1805, one Isaac Allen led a zebra about New England; and a lion and lioness shown in 1816-1818 were owned by Gerard Crane. Of these, only Crane is known to be connected with subsequent exhibitions.
Once again, teaming up with another exhibitor. Miller was in Hartford, Connecticut, in November 1817, where his jaguars were shown with a lion, a marmoset and the first hyena to be advertised in this country. No other hyena appeared before 1828, which leads us to suspect that this animal was misidentified.
The female jaguar died sometime prior to March, 1818, when the collection appeared in Cincinnati. An African ape had been added by that time and in May, in the same city, a leopard was announced. Miller advertised in Cincinnati that the jaguar preferred human flesh to any other kind, but assured the public that he was secured in a large iron cage. We follow Miller’s further career under number (10).
(6) GRAND EXHIBITION OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1817-1818
Odell describes a menagerie as being at Fly Market and Water Street in New York in 1817. (footnote 1) It consisted of: Greenland bear, ostrich, mountain goat, elk, eagle, alligator, red lion, pelican.
We suspect that the bear and the elk were also part of our number (6). In Philadelphia, in January, 1818, the lion, the pelican and the ostrich were on display with a crown bird and a marmoset. Other animals were not mentioned. This suggests that the New York exhibition was the combination of traveling groups, a common occurrence and one that is most confusing to the researcher. In this particular instance, we assume that the Greenland bear was a polar bear. It was the last one seen here until 1823. This menagerie was in Pennsylvania in 1818 and then disappeared, at least as a group.
(7) NATURAL CURIOSITY, 1818
This concern consisted of a male and female dromedary, an alligator and a marmoset. The male camel was eight-feet tall and fourteenfeet long and of a white color. The female was mouse colored, about a year old and four to five-feet high with wool eight inches long on her hump. They appeared in Philadelphia and Hartford; and a week later, in New Haven, became part of the caravan we described under (4). The alligator is not found after the Hartford stand.
(8) ELEPHANT COLUMBUS, 1819-1823
The fourth elephant to reach America, Columbus, was landed in Boston in December, 1817. He was exhibited as a single attraction until November, 1818, when he was in Cincinnati with a jaguar and a dromedary. The latter might have been one of the pair we mentioned in (7), since the number of camels in the country remained constant at four until 1828. The dromedary went elsewhere after March, 1820, and Columbus and the jaguar toured as a team for the next few years. It was the usual custom to combine these two specimens with other collections in the winter. In February, 1823, as an example, they were in Philadelphia with a llama and other animals. At this stand the advertisements said that the breath of the llama would cure whooping cough in children. One suspects that any child held up to the breath of a llama would forget any other ills. The jaguar was identified as a South American panther at this same stand. It was the last time it and Columbus were shown together. The great elephant went on as a single exhibit.
(9) GRAND CARAVAN OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1820-1823
The menagerie that used this generic name more than any other company is first found in Baltimore in February, 1820. Visitors were promised: lion, llama, elk, camel, bear, and monkeys.
The management had a cage constructed for the lion that measured eighteen by twelve by twelve-feet high and weighed 4,000 pounds. This had to be a permanent construction as a weight of that order could hardly be carried over the roads of the day. The elk and the bear are possibly the same ones we reported under (5) and (6). The career of this bear nearly came to an end in Baltimore. On April 20, the proprietor advertised that the public might come and watch as the lion ate the bear. However, so many objections were voiced that a notice on April 21 announced that the spectacle would not take place. In any event, the bear, which must have been in bad shape, and the elk did not accompany the collection into New England.
In July, in addition to the others, they advertised an ocelot, an ichneumon, a baboon and a “Dandy Jack.” This last was a pony-riding monkey that, with whatever music was available, provided some entertainment other than that derived from looking at the animals. Dandy Jack, like Grand Caravan, became a generic term, following the success of this first one of the type. The name was applied to hundreds of monkeys over the years. They were before the public at least two decades. The name was derived from Dandy Jack Dowling, hero of tales spun by the Maine humorist Seba Smith. Jack Dowling, a Yankee peddler, had a solution for every problem and a story to reinforce each of his prejudices. Variations on the name, as applied to riding monkeys, included Sailor Jack, Saucy Jack, Colonel Pluck and Lady Jane. In most small menageries the Dandy Jack was the only performer.
Additions to the Grand Caravan in 1821 included an anteater. an opossum and a “maygot.” The latter was a misspelling of magot (macacus innuis), the Barbary ape. A cougar was in the ads in 1822. No trace of the company has been found after 1823.
(10) JOHN MILLER, 1821-1825
While we are not sure of Miller’s involvement with the caravan mentioned in item (4), he is definitely identified in the earliest record we have of the sale of a menagerie. A bill of sale reproduced in Scharfs history of Westchester County, New York, shows that on February 14, 1821, Miller sold what he called the “Exhibition of Animals.” This was accomplished in Virginia and the buyers were Thaddeus and Gerard Crane of Westchester. They paid Miller $3,500 for a Brazilian tiger and tigress (again, jaguars), an African leopard and “leopardess,” a coatimundi, two English organs, a bass drum, an Italian cymbal, two wagons, five horses and harness, and all the signs, cuts and “apparatus.” This was not the end of Miller’s career. In 1822, he was on the road with what Hugh Lindsay termed a menagerie, though it also had arena acts. The concern was open in the daytime for those wishing to see the animals. At night, Lindsay, Dan Minnich and William Farrell entertained at rope-walking and clowning.
Lindsey refers only to two camels, the care of which fell to him. He relates in his memoir several exciting incidents as he led the creatures cross-country at night. (footnote 2)
The show was exhibited in Market Street in Philadelphia over the winter of 1823-1824, at the Pennsylvania Museum operated by Jesse Sharpless.
This winter entertainment must have been the combination of at least two menageries. Advertised animals were: elephant Columbus, red African lion, two camels, two llamas, snakes, wild hog, orang-utan, polar bear, monkeys, and two-legged hog.
There were twenty-six specimens in all. The polar bear and the orang-utan must have belonged to other persons. Though we have not listed an orang-utan prior to this, they were not uncommon in America. They were more likely to be exhibited as single attractions than with collections. Lindsay did not rejoin Miller until the fall of 1824, thus we have no record of the bulk of that season. In the spring of 1825, Miller sold his animals to a Mr. Crosby (see 20) and organized a conventional circus troupe. This time, according to Lindsay, the menagerie brought $4,000. Miller, born in 1786, died in Easton, Pennsylvania in August, 1830.
(11) EXHIBITION OF NATURAL CURIOSITIES, 1821-1828
The earliest advertisement we have found for this company is in Frederick, Maryland, in 1821. They had a buffalo, an elk, a lion and a calf with six legs. They were in Philadelphia a month later and had, as a guest, Hachaliah Bailey’s elephant, Betty, usually referred to as “Little Bet,” to distinguish her from his first elephant, which had the same name and is now known as “Old Bet.” Later in that season a catamount, a mococo (properly macaque) and a marmoset appeared in the ads.
We find them in New England in the fall of 1822, and by this time their consist was: Asian lion, catamount, wildcat, ichneumon, sixlegged heifer, monkeys, llama, male buffalo, female buffalo, elk, Dandy Jack, marmoset, a total of twenty-six animals, including a “cammose” which they said came from China. This may be the same animal we listed in (1).
Animals added in 1823 included a jackal, a leopard, a baboon and three young lions. In mid-season they claimed an African ounce, which seems unlikely, and a black wolf. They were advertising thirty-six animals by late season, which, if true, made this the largest menagerie then traveling. The titles had changed as well, becoming “Grand Caravan of Living Animals.”
In 1825, in Providence, Rhode Island, Zebedee Macomber applied for the license from the city and for the first time we can link that pioneer showman to an exhibition. He was active until at least 1839 and was part of the group that imported more exotic animals than any other. Macomber himself made at least two trips to Africa for shiploads of animals, returning with fifty to seventy specimens each time. The jackal that the firm acquired in 1823, the first to be shown in this country, was termed “the lion’s provider.” Later menageries also used this description. Curiously, the knowledge that lions lived on kills made by jackals was lost somewhere along the line and has been trumpeted as a great discovery by some twentieth-century zoologists.
In 1827, this caravan had a polar bear (advertised as a white bear), a rare animal at that time, only two having preceded it to this country. Their 1828 lineup was: South American tiger, two gray wolves, rib nosed baboon, dogfaced baboon, Barbary ape, polar bear, African lion, catamount, leopard, ichneumon, black wolf, lioness, jaguar, camel, catamount, jackal, llama and three riding monkeys - Dandy Jack, Captain Bill and Sailor.
The reader will notice that a South American tiger, catamount and jaguar are all listed. There appears to have been confusion about the correct nomenclature for Western Hemisphere members of the family felidae. Pumas, panthers, catamounts, tigers, spotted tigers and the same names preceded by both North and South American are rampant in advertising. That some of these were jaguars cannot easily be discounted, except then the appellation North American is attached. At this distance it is doubtful that the confusion can be amended.
In 1829, this menagerie was re-titled “Macomber & Co.,” and we continue its history under (22).
(12) GRAND CARAVAN WITH TIPPOO SUTAN. 1822-1834
The nucleus of the “Grand, Rich and Rare,” collection of 1821 had been two camels, a lion, a Barbary ape and an anteater. Tippoo Sultan was added in 1822 and, as we said, this then became the first traveling menagerie to include an elephant. In addition, it became the only caravan that included in its title the name of one of the exhibits.
In late October, 1822, the group went into a building opposite the capital in Albany, New York. They were to occupy this same place for two consecutive winters. When they returned to the building after the road season of 1823, they had with them a tapir from South America. It was the first such creature to be advertised in America and belonged to a Mr. Hofmaster. He had exhibited it as a single attraction that summer and said it was a hippopotamus.
On February 27, 1824, the Grand Caravan joined with J. W. Bancker’s Circus for a combined exhibition. The public could visit both shows for the price of one admission. Never before had there been such an arrangement between a menagerie and a circus. This lasted until the animals went on tour in April, 1824. It was also during this winter that the name of John Martin, Tippoo Sultan’s keeper, was first mentioned in the bills.
The concern, anchored by the elephant, existed until 1834, the longest of any we have found - using 1813 as its naissance. In the ten seasons after the elephant was acquired we find only two references to the proprietors. In 1826, a license was taken out by Martin, Finch & Co, in Rochester, New York. This would be Joseph Martin, the keeper, and Edward Finch (1796-1849), the man who exhibited Hachaliah Bailey’s elephant from 1820 to 1823. A firm named Hopkins & Co., were the proprietors of the Tippoo Sultan caravan for three seasons in the early 1830s. We do not believe any of these people owned the elephant.
By December, 1824, Joseph Martin had trained Tippoo to perform in the ring. The keeper would stand on the beast’s tusks and be tossed by a movement of the animal’s head ten or twelve feet in the air to alight again on the tusks. Then, tossed again, Martin would perform a somersault and land on the elephant’s back.
In 1825, this show advertised a lynx by that name. Our number (15) had listed a luserve, or North American wildcat, in 1824, which may have been a lynx. A rib-nosed baboon, or mandrill, also traveled with them in that year. In 1826, the ads said they had an Egyptian weazel (sic)—most likely an ichneumon, but possibly a mongoose—and a tiger cat. Without a standard for identifying these animals, the proprietor could call them whatever he wished.
In Baltimore in December, 1829, they had: Tippoo Sultan, leopard, rompo of Africa, South American tiger, South American cougar, lion, jaguar, tiger cat, tiger, adjutant, Belaric crane, and lynx.
The rompo of Africa was said to resemble the hyena, which may indicate that it was a Cape hunting dog (lycaon victus). In addition to the above animals, J. B. Green’s collection exhibited with them in Baltimore. This had a zebra, a crane, a kangaroo and a gnu (see 21).
In 1832, they claimed fifty animals, but thirty-five of them might have been monkeys. In January, 1834, the caravan was offered for sale in Philadelphia. The ad was signed by Bailey Howe, which may indicate that Epenelus Howe, his brother, owned the company. Epenetus was very active in animal procuring and leasing animals in the 1830s. Offered were: Tippoo Sultan, camel, bear, macaw, South American tiger, three panthers (male, female and “whelp”), lioness, llama, wolf, ichneumon, leopard, zebu, badger, six monkeys.
Other goods were twenty wax figures, seventeen horses, one pony, eight wagons, harness, cages, canvas and other fixtures for traveling as well as three horses trained for equestrian performances. We do not know why the horses were included; perhaps they were not part of the menagerie. The fact that cages and wagons were listed separately would indicate that wheeled cages were not yet in use.
Hopkins & Co. had the Tippoo Sultan show in 1832, 1833 and 1834. We do not think Hopkins owned the animals. Whatever the outcome of the sale in early 1834, Hopkins & Co, took Tippoo Sultan, another elephant and a few smaller types to the Maritime Provinces.
Their ads listed: Tippoo Sultan, cheetah, female leopard, South American tiger, North American bear, female elephant, capibara, wildcat, two hyenas, male leopard, raccoon and a cosmorama. This is obviously not the menagerie in the sale announcement.
When the Zoological Institute was organized in 1835 it combined all the menageries in the country; the Tippoo Sultan caravan was included.
(13) MENAGERIE. 1822-1823
Subtitled “A Collection of Strange Animals,” this group was in Norfolk, Virginia, in February, 1822. It consisted of an African lion, two young female lions (four months old) and two jaguars or “Brazilian tigers.”
In December, 1823 they were in New York City. At this stand they had the lion, the “jaggers,” a dwarf bull, male and female elks and an American eagle. It is possible that this lion, advertised as “the largest that was ever in this country,” was the one shown in 1824 as “Hector” (15).
(14) EDWARD FINCH, 1823-1831
We previously mentioned Finch in connection with the Tippoo Sultan caravan in 1826 (12). However, his career as an exhibitor began several years before that. In 1816, the Newburyport Herald announced the arrival in that Massachusetts town of a “living African lion.” It was said to be the survivor of a pair of lions on the English brig William which were destined as a present for the Prince Regent. The brig was captured by the Letter-of-marque Decatur on 12 December 1814. The lion was auctioned in North Carolina and was bought by one George Reid, supposedly for $1,720. Reid in turn sold the animal for $7,000.
Finch, in 1819 was exhibiting a caged African lion in Ohio and it would appear that it was the animal from the William. In 1820, Finch traveled with the lion and Hachaliah Bailey’s elephant Betty, the second of the name Benjamin Brown, an old showman, said in an 1879 interview that “Hachaliah Bailey and Ed Finch had an elephant and lion, which they used to show through the country.” Brown’s brother, Christopher, was in charge of the exhibition. The combination was on tour at least through 1822.
In 1823, using the title “Natural Curiosities,” Finch, or so we believe, led a caravan through Ohio that had a lion, a leopard, a catamount, an ichneumon, a Dandy Jack and lesser types.
No advertisements have been found for this collection from 1823 to 1828. The possibility exists that Finch leased them to others, but if so, not as a group. Finch was a partner of Joseph Martin in 1826 (12), but it isn’t known how active he was. In 1828, he appeared as proprietor of a “Grand Caravan,” which toured with: African lion, jaguar, Missouri bear, African lioness, two panthers, monkeys, ichneumon, leopard, monkeys and Dandy Jack.
The ownership of this company was identified in 1829 as Finch & Mead. They added a baboon, an ape and an anteater. The Dandy Jack act was reinforced by Colonel Pluck and Lady Jane.
Abraham Mead had been operating a circus prior to this menagerie involvement. He sold out in early 1829 and went in with Finch. This is in reverse of the usual order, in which menagerie men moved to the circus, but not ordinarily vice versa.
In the Brown family correspondence there is a letter that states that a menagerie owned by Phillips and Finch and managed by Mead left Putnam County, New York, late in 1829, bound for Raleigh, North Carolina. Phillips was apparently a silent partner, as we find him nowhere else in our research. Finch, Miller & Co., on the other hand, was in Norfolk, Virginia in January, 1830. The animals exhibited were the same as those listed above. John Miller was the agent and partner; this is not the same man as in (10).
Three months after the Norfolk date, the caravan had reached Halifax, North Carolina, and here two North American panthers were in the ads, in addition to two South American ones that had been with the show for some time. These newcomers were said to have been captured in Kentucky in 1825. Other additions, in Savannah, in December, were two ostriches.
In Greenville, South Carolina, John Miller put a notice in the newspaper that a thirty-pound hog would be put into the lion’s cage; whether dead or alive wasn’t mentioned. However, this couldn’t have been a customary practice or it wouldn’t have been advertised. Finch, Miller & Co. made another tour of the South in 1831. They ended that season in New Orleans in January, 1832. J. Purdy Brown, a leading circus proprietor of the day, either bought or leased these animals and attached them to his circus for 1832. By doing so he became one of the first proprietors in America to have an attached menagerie. It must not have been rewarding, however, as he did this but one year. Brown traveled by steamboat on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and we surmise that it was awkward to load and unload the animals at each stop. The collection went to Bailey, Brown & Co. for 1833 (see 34). As for Finch’s career, we take it up again under (23).
(15) GRAND CARAVAN OF LIVING ANIMALS (II), 1824-1825
This relatively large collection used this title in only two seasons, but may have operated under other names at other times. The earliest advertisement found is in Schenectady, New York, in July, 1824. The show featured Hector the lion, imported from the Tower of London “two years ago.” He must surely have been on exhibition in 1822 or 1823. With him were: camel, jaguar, leopard, Missouri bear, cavies, catamount, jackal, ichneumon, golden eagle, Saucy Jack, Dandy Jack, and luserve.
The luserve was described as a wildcat of North America; it was probably a lynx. The list here is thirteen animals, but their ads touted twenty-five throughout 1824, and thirty-six in 1825. We assume the difference was made up of guinea pigs, monkeys and birds.
A sea-serpent, thirty-two feet long and fifteen-feet in circumference, had been washed up at Brown’s Point, New Jersey, in July, 1822. Duly mounted, it was with this caravan, probably by lease. It may have been a giant squid. They advertised it in Providence, Rhode Island, in January, 1825, but not the following August. By then, a buffalo and a stuffed llama had been added. The llama was described thusly: “Little Sukey, stuffed llama, though dead the proprietor being positive it was the only one of its true kind ever exhibited has had it nicely fitted up.”
Two interesting additions to this company in 1825 were a ring tailed monkey (possibly a lemur) and a lion monkey from Brazil (perhaps a golden marmoset), neither of which had previously been advertised in this country, a rib-nosed baboon, or mandril, was also part of the consist.
(16) BOSTON CARAVAN OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1826-1828
This small collection achieved fame beyond the ordinary, though it meant nothing at the time. It was the first menagerie to travel with a circus. Since menageries and circuses were both moving overland in wagons and performing for one or two days at a time, their combination seems to us now to be almost foregone. However, circuses of the day were often subject to censorious comment from the pulpit and the press while menageries were not. For this reason menagerie operators were behooved to keep their exhibitions separate. They were offering, or said they were, an educational experience, an opportunity to learn about the creatures of the earth. By contrast, the circus was raucous and immediate and had no lasting value. “A waste of money and a waste of time,” was the clergyman’s general attitude toward the circus.
However, the circus was also antic, amusing and the only place one could witness scantily-clad women in a socially acceptable milieu. To paraphrase modern idiom, “When you’ve seen one elephant you’ve seen them all.” The menagerie was a static exhibition, which is why the proprietors were quick to adopt such features as the Dandy Jack exhibits, large brass bands and the lion training acts.
The Boston Caravan began 1826 with a lion, a catamount, a tiger, a bear, a jackal, a baboon and a Dandy Jack. In 1827 a wolf replaced the jackal and may have been the same animal.
In Charleston, South Carolina, on February 1, 1828, the Boston Caravan joined Charles Wright’s New Caravan of Living Animals (18) for a few days of combined exhibitions. The suspicion is that Wright owned both of these shows. At this same time, a circus operated by Benjamin Brown was performing in the city. Brown and Wright were alike in being residents of Somers, New York. During the month of February Wright paraded some of his animals in the circus ring. When Brown’s circus moved north at the beginning of its summer season, the Boston Caravan, somewhat augmented, went with it. They appeared on the same lots in Raleigh, Lynchburg, Norfolk and Alexandria, among other places, and they advertised together. This could well have been the first instance in which a menagerie appeared in a canvas tent. The animals they presented were: lion, ribnosed baboon, Belaric crane, ichneumon, hyena, brown ostrich, lion monkey, catamount, Dandy Jack, kangaroo, leopard, marmoset, bear and, for the first time, a blue monkey (cercopithecus mitis).
This caravan was apparently disbanded at the end of the 1828 season; presumably it was combined with another collection.
(17) GRAND MENAGERIE OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1826-1829
First advertised in Baltimore on the last day of 1825, this company claimed to have thirty-six animals. We read of the following: lion, female leopard, wolf, coatimundi, camel, bear, ostrich, crown bird, male leopard, buffalo, catamount, Dandy Jack and other performing monkeys. In addition, the public was entertained by one of the early bands.
In 1827, a lioness was added and she and the lion were said to be from a prize vessel, but we have not found any other reference to the event. A jaguar, a marmoset and an ichneumon were also new to this menagerie, but most interesting of all was the addition of a zebu. No previous advertisement had claimed one.
Their 1828 line-up read thusly: lion, leopard, Dandy Jack, South American cougar, lioness, gray wolf, Colonel Pluck, zebu, black bear, and apes. In the next, and apparently last, season, they said the lion was fifteen years old and that the zebu was the only one in America.
(18) CHARLES WRIGHT, 1826-1829
During the four seasons he operated alone, or with silent partners, Charles Wright (1792-1862) used the title “New Caravan of Living Animals.” He advertised in 1826 that his collection was lately imported from the Tower of London. No earlier menagerie made such a claim. He had with him two full-grown emus (“emuses” in the ads), a mammoth camel, two long tailed monkeys, a white faced monkey, a Dandy Jack and pony, and a zebra that was said to have gone from Africa to London to the United States.
From correspondence we know that Wright had two menageries on the road in 1827, but the second of these has not been identified. It traveled in Missouri and Illinois, where newspapers were not in abundance. The original show was managed by Rufus Welch, Wright’s future partner.
The camel had been joined by another, so they had a male and female dromedary, the zebra, the emus, a lion and lioness, two tigers, a leopard and a pair of panthers. These were all part of the caravan in 1828 as well as a llama and a red bird of paradise.
In 1829 Wright became the first man in America to assume the role of lion trainer, or “keeper” as the contemporary phrase had it. The Asian lion and lioness which had been with him since 1827 were the subjects of ads that read, “the keeper will enter the respective cages of the lion and lioness.” This was in Pensacola, Florida, late in the season and he had probably done this earlier, though no references have been found. The act itself had been accomplished in Europe as early as 1819. The reason for the delay of such a feature in this country must lie in the fact that the animal cages were small, being light enough to be lifted on and off wagons, whereas European menageries exhibited in halls where large areas could be devoted to each animal’s den. This fact, if it is one, indicates that Wright’s cats were carried in wheeled cages, or large cages mounted on flatbed wagons. If so, they were the earliest such in America.
In 1830, Wright formed a partnership called “Carley, Purdy & Wright,” and we deal with its history under (23).
(19) NATIONAL MENAGERIE, 1826-1830
This title headed the advertisements of a caravan in 1828 and 1830. In 1826, it was “Natural Curiosities,” and in 1827, “Great India Elephant Caravan,” and in 1829, “National Caravan.” These various names indicate clearly how the titles were generic and not meant to be identification. With so few such exhibitions on tour, it made little sense to distinguish between them.
This one was originally based on a shipment of animals from London that were debarked from the ship Xenophon in August 1826. In addition to tigers, leopards and a llama there was a Bactrian camel aboard, the first one to arrive here. It was said to be seven feet in height.
Later evidence indicates that this group was owned by Zebedee Macomber. He reformed it in 1827, when it was called the “Great India Elephant Caravan.” A female elephant, later named Flora, was the center piece of the show. She was twenty-four years old and nine feet high and newly imported. The llama, the Bactrian camel and a leopard accompanied her on tour, as well as smaller animals. Depending on advertising space, smaller animals usually meant the likes of marmosets, monkeys, ichneumons and baboons. The smaller the show the more likely such species would be named.
In 1828, a tiger, a pair of kangaroos, a pair of panthers, a jaguar and a dromedary were added. However, the list for 1829 was not as large, being: female elephant, kangaroo, coatimundi, Bactrian camel, leopard, monkeys, Captain Jack, tiger, llama, baboons.
A lion and a black wolf were additions in 1830. For 1831, the caravan became the property of June & Titus and we follow it under (27). The elephant Flora went to the Howe & Birchard menagerie (30).
(20) GRAND CARAVAN OF LIVING ANIMALS (III), 1827-1829
This menagerie might have been the one sold by John Miller to Mr. Crosby in 1825 (10). We have biographical information on a later menagerie operator, Stephen Butler, which says that he joined a firm operated by Eben and Horace Crosby in 1827. Further, advertisements for this company refer to their male jaguar as being the one captured by the U. S. S. Constitution during the War of 1812. This was Miller’s jaguar.
Their small collection contained an African lion that had been “whelped” in Nashville, as well as male and female jaguars, a Missouri bear and a Dandy Jack. For 1828 their holdings, or at least their advertising, had expanded to include the following: African lion, Brazil tigress, leopard, Lady Jane, South American cougar, Asian lion, llama, two wildcats, Arabian camel, Brazil tiger, brown bear, Captain Dick.
Their notices in 1829 stated that the llama could run seventyfive miles an hour. How they measured this was not indicated. We find no references to the Crosbys in the animal business after 1829.
(21) JAMES B. GREEN, 1828-1834
There is evidence that Green was in the menagerie business prior to our date of 1828. Thomas B. Nathans, an early circus performer, said he joined Green in that year and that Green had previously confined himself to the “West and South.” The first notice we have of him is in Morristown, New Jersey, where he offered the exhibit of a tigress, a female kangaroo, a zebra, a crowned heron and the first gnu to be shown in the country.
These same animals were in Baltimore in December, 1829, appearing with the “National Menagerie,” which was the title of the Tippoo Sultan caravan at that time (12). Green participated in this union at least until March, 1830; then headed for Ohio.
In 1831 Green joined other menagerie proprietors in the practice of using their own names on their property, his style becoming “J. B. Green & Co.” In that year his collection consisted of: male zebra, male kangaroo, cheetah, Captain Dick, gnu, female kangaroo, European badger, Dandy Jack, panther, jaguar, llama; to which he added in September, 1831, Helen MacGregor, a female Indian elephant. Her name may have come from Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy, but more likely was derived from the steamboat of the same name, which was the largest then on the Mississippi.
Green combined his menagerie with that of Oscar Brown (31) and some circus performers from J. Purdy Brown to form Green & Brown’s Menagerie and Circus in 1832. This was one of two such combinations that appeared in that year; they were the first of the type in the world. Green’s 1831 collection was unchanged for the 1832 show. Brown brought five African lions (more than had been exhibited by one menagerie theretofore) and two leopards to the partnership. The presence of Helen MacCregor also made this the first circus to claim an elephant. In September, 1832, she somehow injured her shoulder to the extent that she lay down and refused to rise. She was dead in a matter of a few days.
Green procured a replacement elephant, Runjet Singh, a male imported in 1832. He also lost his partner to other interests, and in 1833 advertised as “J. B. Green & Co. Menagerie and Circus.” It was in this season that he hired Burt Clark as keeper of the lions. Clark daily entered the den of two lionesses and put them through various tricks.
Oscar Brown returned to the partnership for a while in 1834. They called themselves Green & Brown’s Menagerie and Circus. Then, J. Purdy Brown, Oscar’s brother, died unexpectedly (he was thirty-four) in Mobile that June and Oscar Brown had to take over the circus. His place with Green was taken by Lewis Bailey, or one of his sons. The show then became Green & Bailey’s Mammoth Menagerie, though the circus was still attached.
In the fall, Green took custody of two hyenas, one striped (hyaena hyaena) and one spotted (crocuta crocuta). Prior to this there had been no distinction made between examples of this family; all of them had been labeled simply “hyena.” In December, a polar bear was obtained, a rare creature at that time.
Green disbanded the menagerie at the end of the 1834 season. Some of the animals, the circus performers and Green himself then joined J. T. & J. P. Bailey & Co.(40).
Because the Greens and Browns and Baileys were so intermingled in the period 1831 to 1835, we attach here a diagram of their affiliations.
(22) MACOMBER & CO, 1829-1834 Zebedee Macombcr, whom we first mentioned in (11), was one of the leading menagerie impresarios of the nineteenth century. He not only operated animal shows, but was involved in importing directly from Africa, and went there himself on at least two occasions to bring back large groups of animals and birds.
His 1829 caravan, the first to be titled with his own name, exhibited the following: elephant, African lion, female leopari and three cubs, polar bear, jaguar, tiger, hyena; to which he added the New England Caravan, en route, a menagerie of which we have no record.
This increased his collection by: mammoth lion, black wolf, tiger cub, African lioness, catamount, and baboon.
The elephant was an eighteen-month old calf which was later given the name Timour. It apparently belonged to Jesse Kelley and was leased to Macomber. The tiger had landed aboard the ship Columbus on June 7, 1829, from London. The female leopard may have been on the show for six years; she foaled on May 19, 1829.
An editorial comment in the Boston Galaxy complimented the management of the caravan and gave us a picture of what some menageries were like. “Much the best we have seen here . . . no commonplace animals crowded in to make up a number, and no dirty ones poking their noses out from every comer—and the whole collection is not, as some have been, a mere wilderness of monkeys.”
In 1830, the title was changed to Macomber & Howe, when Epenetus Howe joined the firm, but it was back to Macomber & Co. by May. In October, either Ezra or Harvey Birchard, or both, invested in the company and it became Macomber & Birchard. They said they had thirty animals. The only listing we have found has these: elephant Timour, ichneumon, Dandy Jack, polar bear, baboon, minor animals, tiger, and kinkajou.
The kinkajou may be the first one in an American menagerie. The polar bear was said to have been recently imported from the Exeter Exchange in London, yet it must be the one they had in 1829.
They claimed thirty animals in 1831 as well, but advertised an expanded list. Perhaps this group should be taken as representing both seasons: elephant Flora, ichneumon, African leopard, two leopard cubs, polar bear, African lion, hyena, tiger, jaguar, and Dandy Jack.
The partnership was dissolved in March, 1832, and Howe & Birchard emerged as the surviving entity (30). Macomber went to Africa in 1832, the first of his collecting expeditions (see 24).
(23) CARLEY, PURDY & WRIGHT, 1830-1833
This was a continuation of Charles Wright’s New Caravan of Living Animals. (18) The name Carley appears only with this show and only in two seasons, 1830 and 1831. Eisenhart Purdy was to join Rufus Welch in the operation of menageries through the years of the Zoological Institute. He was one of the members of the Boston Zoological Association that imported so many animals in the early thirties.
If Wright’s purpose in taking on new partners was to increase his collection, then they contributed a pair of panthers, a jaguar, a hyena, an African lion and a kangaroo. More likely, their investment of cash allowed the purchase of these additions.
Wright was the keeper of the lions and entered their cages at each performance, as he had done in 1829. Ponies, monkeys, camels and llamas were also used in ring performances.
The 1830 animal list contained: zebra, Asian lion, Asian lioness, two camels, ape and young hyena, macaw, African lion, two North American panthers, llamas, leopard, jaguar, kangaroo, and Dandy Jack.
This menagerie had several unique features in addition to Wright’s lion act. It was the first to mention that they used a tent for exhibition; the first to erect seats; and the first to charter a steamboat (it went from Natchez to Cincinnati in the first quarter of 1830). Prior to the use of tents, menageries would set up in stables or barns or tavern yards. Such places were not always deemed a proper environment for women and children, thus the adoption of tents set up on vacant lots had a tendency to increase attendance. No seating was provided in the inn-yard style of exhibition and initially only a few seats (for women) were erected in the tents. Spectators stood around the ring or even on top of the cages, as contemporary iconography illustrates.
The title of this show was changed to Purdy, Carley & Bailey in 1831, Wright dropping out and Lewis Bailey becoming a partner. They said there were thirty animals in the collection. Additions to the 1830 line-up included a black wolf and a cheetah. The cheetah was one of four that appeared in various menageries that year. During their winter show in Philadelphia from December, 1831 to March, 1832, they received an elephant named Caroline, which had landed in the Delaware River in January. We don’t know who the keeper of lions was in 1831, but suspect it to be Solomon Bailey, a relative of the new partner.
Charles Wright returned to the firm in 1832, and it was then advertised as Purdy, Welch, Finch & Wright, Ed Finch having bought in, obviously.
Rufus Welch (1801?-1856) in his thirty-year career in field show operation managed some of the largest circuses in America, but began his career with menageries, and stayed in that side of the business until the collapse of the Zoological Institute. He was one of a handful of proprietors who made the change from animal shows to tented circuses. That it took different temperaments and a different kind of judgment to guide these two types of entertainment cannot be doubted. The onus that attached to circuses by the moral leadership of the society, especially in smaller towns, did not apply to the menageries. We think this is the reason so few of the Westchester and Putnam animal exhibitors crossed to the circus when the menageries declined in the early forties.
In Wilmington, Delaware, in April, 1832, they advertised: Asian lion, Asian lioness, elephant, two llamas, Bengal tiger, zebra, alpacha, black wolf, two macaws, Arabian camel, crested porcupine, fisher, two ichneumons, two North American panthers.
In 1833, the partners combined with Zebedee Macomber to put out Purdy, Welch & Co. and Purdy, Welch, Macomber & Co., which we detail under (24). Charles Wright apparently became part of the “& Co.” designation.
(24) RUFUS WELCH, ZEBEDEE MACOMBER and E1SENHART PURDY, 1833-1834
The Purdy, Welch, Finch & Wright menagerie of 1832 (23), became Purdy, Welch & Co. in 1833. We believe Zebedee Macomber was a partner in this firm, though, as we mentioned, he was in Africa in 1832. There he was representing the Boston Zoological Association, a group of eight men, including those in our heading. The purpose of the Association was to charter a ship and outfit an expedition to capture or purchase wild animals for display in America. They proved to be so successful at this that they mounted expeditions in the two following years as well.
The Purdy, Welch & Co. caravan of 1833 was a very large one, viz: elephant Caroline, two leopards, lioness, two tigers, hyena, alpaca, African porcupine, two camels, two ichneumons, gazelle, young lion, two ostriches, zebra, llama, jaguar, polar bear, and panther.
The gazelle (family unknown) was the first to be advertised. As large as this menagerie, the one formed in July, 1833, from Macomber’s shipment on board the Triton was even larger.
They named this new group Purdy, Welch, Macomber and they advertised: Caffrian lion, Caffrian lioness, four zebras, three jackals, quagga, tapir, two leopards, vulture, two hyenas, two ostriches, tamandua, gazelle, black eagle, peacocks, coatimundi, ichneumon, panther, cavy, anaconda, armodillo, marmoset, apes, African porcupine, and baboons.
The tapir was from South America, thus it didn’t arrive on the Triton. The quagga was the initial representative of the type in this country.
Macomber returned to Africa on the ship Susan and was back in Boston with another shipment by May, 1834. This was a group of seventy animals and birds and the entire cargo was listed in a Boston newspaper as being: eland, two leopards, four ostriches, five gnus, seven zebras, gazelle, porcupine, tamandua, Bengal leopard, lioness, two secretary birds, vulture, four quaggas, two jackals, ichneumon, margay, two ibis, birds, crane, fifteen white pelicans, plus a great number of monkeys and minor animals. To these were added Mogul, the elephant Macomber had exhibited in 1831, and two camels. This collection was named Macomber, Welch & Co.’s New Zoological Exhibition. Each partner now had his name on two of the three menageries the partnership owned.
Over the winter of 1834-1835, the cities of Albany, Boston and Philadelphia were each graced by one of these shows. In 1835 all three were part of the Zoological Institute. Macomber went to Africa once more and by the time he returned to Boston in May, 1835, the Zoological Institute menageries were on tour. This time, his shipment was parceled out to several of these corporation caravans.
(25) GRAND CARAVAN OF LIVING ANIMALS (IV), 1830-1834
Claiming to have twenty animals, this menagerie, the proprietors of which are unknown to us, was in Michigan and Ontario in 1830. They had an Asiatic lion, a jaguar, two dromedaries and a Dandy Jack, among others. In Detroit, the license was taken out by Reuben French, who was the manager of several menageries in the years to come.
In late 1831, they listed a “Siam ape,” two kangaroos, a hyena and two elephants in their ads, in addition to those we mentioned above.
The elephants would appear to be Columbus and Timour, one full-grown, the other two years old and three-feet high. With these, this 1831 caravan became the first to exhibit two elephants at the same time.
The presence of Timour may indicate that Zebedee Macomber was involved with this company. It was he who first exhibited the calf we believe was later given the name. However, the animal was said to be two years old when it was imported in December, 1828, and this menagerie advertised him as two years old in 1831. The reader might assume a deception in the notices, but we have not found such to be true as early as this.
Columbus went elsewhere for 1832 and Timour, “the youngest elephant ever imported,” was the only pachyderm on the show.
With him were: African lion, ichneumon, hyena, two kangaroos, dromedary, spotted tiger, macaw, armadillo and an “ogotaro from Java,” which might have been the previous season’s Siam ape.
The company advertised as Circus and Menagerie in 1833, though no circus names or descriptions were included. It may be that Dandy Jack’s antics were offered as a “circus.” The animals were unchanged. With the addition of a European badger (tavra barbara?) and the deletion of the ogotaro they were same in 1834 as well.
Solely because of their geographical movements, we suspect that this was the same menagerie that we call French, Hobby & Co. in 1834 (41). If that is true, it joined the Zoological Institute in 1835.
(26) NEW ENGLAND CARAVAN OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1830-1834
By 1833, this menagerie was owned by a partnership among Thomas Tufts, Hiram E. Waring and E. Waring. We have no proof that they owned it at its beginning in 1830. Nor do we know what animals they owned, as none of their ads in 1830 or 1831 list anything other than a huge horse, some nineteen hands high.
In 1832, we find John Sears as their keeper of lions, but there are still no other animals mentioned. Ned Kendall’s band traveled with them. He was the leading artist of his day on the Kent Bugle. Eighteenthirty- two was the first of many seasons he traveled with field shows.
In February, 1833, a large male elephant, Siam, landed in Boston and was added to the New England Caravan. That year they listed their collection and it read: elephant Siam, African lion, buffalo, Asian lioness, tiger, mocca, and hyena.
Again, the mocca was likely a macaque. Sears entered the den of the African lion, said to weigh 700 pounds. In each town they played they set up a show of wax figures, usually in a hall, for which they charged 12 1/2 cents.
In June, 1833, the title became Boston and New York Menagerie; it may have been that the Tufts and the Warings took over management. By October, Mr. Flint had replaced Sears as the lion trainer. Kendall’s band was still providing the music.
There was an infusion of capital between the 1833 and 1834 seasons as the collection was much increased in the latter year. This lends credence to Tufts and the Warings having bought the firm. The 1834 ads boasted of: elephant Siam, Asian lioness, two jaguars, margay, moco, African lion, Bengal tiger, cheetah, Russian bear, buffalo, African spotted panther, South American panther, North American catamount, apes, monkeys and baboons, tapir, dromedary, llama, ichneumons, and Dandy Jack.
We assume the African spotted panther was a leopard, though the serval cannot be ruled out. During the season the caravan was increased by a polar bear, a porcupine, a jackal and a “romper or man eater.” Number (12) in this paper had a “rompo” and it was probably the same animal. Mr. Flint, Ned Kendall and the wax figure exhibit were still part of the show. They had forty-five horses and thirty employees.
In the late fall of 1834, the menagerie went into Baltimore for a winter showing. At this time the title changed to H. and E. Waring & Co. In the spring they were combined with the Raymond & Ogden menagerie to form unit #7 of the Zoological Institute.
(27) JUNE, TITUS, ANGEV1NE & CO., 1830-1834
This title is one of the best known in the early history of the menagerie and the circus. It existed until 1842 and was, with the Raymond interests, one of the two largest firms of the era. Its voluminous advertising material has survived in some quantity, making its name better known today than are those of its rivals. The importation of the first living rhinoceros into America would seem to be the beginning of the company, though it might well have existed prior to that event. The principals were brothers John J. (1802-1884) and James M. June (1809-1862); Lewis B. Titus (1800?-1870); and Caleb S. Angevine (1798-1859). The name in our title was not used until 1834.
The rhinoceros, a Great Indian one-horned specimen, was captured in May, 1829, when it was about three months old. It was sent to the Prince of Calcutta in August, 1829, and purchased from him in January, 1830. It arrived in this country in May, 1830.
Such an unusual animal needed no menagerie setting to attract patronage so it was sent on tour with a pair of “mocos” and an ichneumon. It made the rounds of the large eastern cities Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore.
Unfortunately for the owners, the uniqueness of their rhinoceros was short-lived. Another of the species arrived in Philadelphia in October, 1830 (28). For the 1831 season, therefore, June, Titus & Co. added the animal to the National Menagerie (19) which they may have purchased at that time.
They titled the show America National Caravan in 1831. It was the first traveling exhibition to use large (6 x 9) posters.
Its animals were: rhinoceros, Bactrian camel, llama, jaguar, tiger, leopard, two panthers, black wolf, macaque, ichneumon, Captain Dick, and Dandy Jack.
As the Grand National Menagerie in 1832, the company added two elephants, Romeo and Juliet. Romeo had arrived on the ship of the same name from Calcutta in January, 1832. Juliet was a small elephant already in the country which was renamed for the obvious reason. In that same season, a male zebra, a tigress, a kangaroo and a pair of striped hyenas were acquired. A display of wax figures accompanied the animals, and was usually set up in a hall in whatever town the menagerie played.
They valued their collection at $200,000 in February, 1833. The rhinoceros accounted for $20,000 of this figure, the elephant Romeo $10,000. The two riding monkeys had a value of $5,000 each. At this time the income required to meet daily expenses (the “nut” in show parlance) was $70. At twenty-five cents admission this meant that 280 patrons allowed them to reach the break-even mark. Two thousand in attendance was not unusual.
In April, 1833, Mr. Roberts, who had been an assistant at the Tower of London for ten years, arrived in America with a tiger which he had trained and became a performer for June, Titus.
At the same time, and perhaps arriving with Roberts, a polar bear, another tiger, a lion and a lioness became part of the collection.
Roberts was attacked by his tiger during the season. One newspaper reported that he was killed. The accident propelled his cage boy, Isaac Van Amburgh, into the spotlight as the replacement. Van Amburgh (1808-1865), a native of Fishkill, New York, was to become the leading wild animal trainer of the era.
Eighteen-thirty-four, the final season before the advent of the Zoological Institute, saw June, Titus, Angevine & Co. featuring a fourteen- piece band complete with one of the first bandwagons. They showed in three tents and claimed an audience capacity of 10,000 persons, which sounds inflated. They had sixty animals which were transported in twenty-nine wagons pulled by sixty-four horses. Fifty men were required to operate this largest of American menageries.
(28) JAMES RAYMOND, 1830-1834
With the introduction of this name into our history we have reached the ultimate nineteenth-century menagerie impresario. James Raymond (1795-1854) was one of the powers behind the Zoological Institute, perhaps its originator, and the operator of more animal caravans than any other man in American history. At one time, in the 1840s, his control of the genre was so complete that there were no menageries traveling that were not his in some manner.
Raymond owned, leased and rented out animal shows to the extent that in some seasons he had four of them on tour simultaneously. He did not do this alone; over the years such names as Ogden, Weeks, Waring appeared on his shows as partners. He seems to have always had investors in his properties.
Raymond was not an innovator nor an importer of rare animals. Every change, every improvement he made in his operations were the result of someone else’s introduction When heavily carved and gilded bandwagons were introduced in the 1840s, he promptly had two manufactured. When Van Amburgh’s fame took him to the acme of success, Raymond found Jacob Driesbach and publicized him into a worthy rival. If his competition had two elephants pulling their bandwagon, Raymond bought four and advertised them heavily.
Our suspicion is that his desire to monopolize the menagerie business led him to the idea of the Zoological Institute, and that when it failed he attempted the same thing privately. His only competitors after the collapse of the corporation were June, Titus, Angevine & Co., who were too wealthy and too well entrenched for him to acquire. When they retired in 1842, Raymond bought their property and from then was the uncontested leader of animal exhibitors.
He began his working life as a harness maker in Carmel, New York, and may have been in the animal business as early as 1826. A Doctor Burroughs, of Philadelphia, imported the second live rhinoceros in October, 1830. The animal was auctioned in January, 1831; we believe this marks the beginning of Raymond’s management career.
His first partner was Darius Ogden and under the title New and Rare Collection of Living Animals they exhibited the rhinoceros as well as the following: African red lion, black llama, Bengal tiger, white camel, African leopard, lynx of japan, South American panther, white llama, two ocelots, puma, and curious fowls.
During the hours of exhibition music on the Kent Bugle, clarinets and violins was provided. There was also juggling, wire-walking and the antics of a clown. Menagerie owners were attempting in this period to add some life to their otherwise rather static exhibitions. In time, they turned to large brass bands and lion trainers to compete with the ever changing circus arena.
In Ontario, in 1832, a caravan called the Burgess Menagerie either went broke or ceased making its lease payments, which amount to the same thing, and Raymond took it over. He installed a fellow Carmelite and harness maker named Chauncey R. Weeks as its manager and changed the name to Raymond, Weeks & Co. Since Raymond & Ogden was still on tour, this gave Raymond two menageries in only his third year of operation.
Raymond, Weeks & Co.’s American Menagerie of Wild Beasts had an elephant called Timour (second of the name) which they changed to Hannibal in 1833. The other animals were: two lions, two tigers, three camels, ocelot, South American panther, two llamas, puma, Dandy Jack, and the first serval of record in America. A keeper accompanied the show and appeared in the lion’s den at each performance. As was often the case, and for reasons unknown to us, his name was not advertised. It would seem that announcing the names of these assumedly intrepid gentlemen would serve to advantage, but until the advent of Isaac Van Amburgh, they are virtually unknown.
Raymond & Ogden’s 1832 collection was almost unchanged from the season before. The rhinoceros was still the feature attraction. They gained a tiger, a puma, an adjutant stork and something they called “loup cervier.” These same animals served in 1833, with the addition of a two-year old elephant named Hyder Ali. The loup cervier had become a wolf by then. A keeper, Mr. Gray, was added as well.
The Raymond, Weeks & Co. lineup was changed for 1833. They ended their season in New Orleans and the caravan was either sold or leased to Stephen Butler, who toured it in 1834 as the American Menagerie of Wild Beasts (38).
Raymond & Ogden added an ounce or snow leopard in 1834, at least their advertising claimed one. We find this rather unlikely, considering the rarity of these beasts. Otherwise, their group of animals was unchanged. In late season they adopted the title Raymond, Ogden, Waring & Co. This name introduced Hiram Waring, who was to become a longtime partner of Raymond. In 1835, the menagerie became part of the Zoological Institute.
(29) ELEPHANT CARAVAN, 1831-1833
The ship Mary from Calcutta, landed in Philadelphia in June, 1830, carrying a twenty-three year old female elephant and an eightmonth old calf. They were exhibited as a pair in 1830 and then, joined by some other animals, species unknown, formed the Elephant Caravan in 1831. Several menageries in that period had adult and calf elephants which were invariably advertised as “the largest and smallest ever exhibited.”
The 1832 notices also shed no light on what the accompanying animals might be. That winter the calf was transferred to Raymond & Ogden (26) and was given the name Hyder Ali. The female, identified only as Great Indian Elephant during 1833, had at least a young African lion and its keeper for company. Dandy Jack and a host of monkeys were included and may have been the “smaller animals” of previous seasons.
This female elephant went to Hopkins & Co. for the 1834 season (12).
(30) HOWE & BIRCHARD’S COLLECTION OF LIVING ANIMALS, 1831-1832.
In section (22) we referred to Macomber and Howe and Birchard as being partners at various times in 1830. Howe and Birchard took the animals to a new menagerie in 1831, which they titled as above. Their ads mentioned: African lion, polar bear, tiger, elephant, hyena, jaguar, leopard, ichneumon and two “whelp” leopards, the ones Macomber had in 1830.
The elephant was the one known as Flora, which had been with June, Titus & Co. (27) in 1830.
This same consist was advertised in 1832, though Howe had dropped out and the caravan was titled Birchard & Co. Menagerie. In 1833, it became Gregory, Crane &Co.
(31) OSCAR W. BROWN, 1831
We have found but one advertisement for Brown, that in Lexington, Kentucky, on September 5. He had three young lions, all in one cage, two leopards and a cheetah. He claimed that the cheetah was the first one in America. There were three on exhibit in that year, possibly indicating a hunter’s sale of cubs, which were parceled out once they arrived. In any event, collectively, they were the first to appear here.
In 1832, Brown combined his animals with those of James B. Green to form Brown & Green’s Menagerie (21).
(32) GRAND CARAVAN OF LIVING WILD BEASTS, 1831
This title graced an advertisement in Rochester, New York, during the winter of 1830-1831. No other reference to it has been found. This was one of the most exotic collections we list in these pages, yet we know next to nothing of it.
They exhibited the following: cougar, spotted seal, ostrich, wild turkey, golden eagle, capuchin, cavay, black bear, young buck, lynx, ocelot or margay, two peccaries, cockatoo, parrots, Mexican crane, ibis, adjutant, crowned heron, turkey buzzard, sea gulls, and monkeys. The descriptions of some of these leave doubts as to their true names. The cavay (cavie) was said to be a Java hare. The wild turkey was said to be a powhee, a word we can’t find. The Mexican crane was described as a grooganaria, which seems to have some connection with the family grus. The capuchin was a marmoset in the ad, but these are members of two different families.
(33) AMERICAN MENAGERIE, 1832-1833
This collection may be a continuation of (15); the animals in the two menageries are quite similar. However, two seasons intervene without notice of either of them. The American Menagerie had, in 1832: lion, Missouri bear, puma, female catamount, ounce, male catamount, guinea pigs, zebu, monkeys, and South American panther.
As we remarked in (28), the presence of a true ounce is rather unlikely, perhaps it was a leopard. They claimed to have a total of twenty animals. In addition, a cosmorama, a painting on rollers, was offered. This was viewed through a series of fixed glasses.
In late 1832, they added a tapir, an ant bear (aardvark?) and a Canada lynx. These probably came from another exhibition, as they said they were “two exhibitions united” after these additions. The tapir was the first to be advertised in eleven years, but may have been a peccary.
The menagerie spent the winter of 1832-1833 at 53 Bowery in New York in a combined showing with J. R. & Wm. Howe, Jr.’s new collection (35).
Additions in 1833 included a peccary (the tapir of 1832?), an “oriental porcupine,” a pair of agouties, a golden eagle and a “man monkey.” This last came to them from South Africa and was five feet high. It might have been a gibbon or a chimpanzee.
Several of these animals appear on Purdy, Welch, Macomber & Co. in 1834 as does the title American Menagerie. Whether this indicates the sale of these beasts or not has not been determined.
(34) BAILEY, BROWN & CO, 1832-1833
J. B. Green and Oscar Brown were partners in 1832 (21). They parted in December of that year and Brown joined with Lewis Bailey to establish Bailey, Brown & Co. (sometimes seen as Brown, Bailey & Co.). They were in Baltimore through February, 1833, where they had the elephant Flora with them. She went on tour with Gregory, Crane & Co. in the summer of that year (36). Their collection was built around six lions, the most that had been gathered together to that time. Four of these had been with Brown in 1831, before he joined Green. They were an African, three Asians and two cubs. The male and female Asian lions were performed by Solomon Bailey. Other animals were: jaguar, kangaroo, red alpacha, two ferretts, leopard, female panther, baboon, llama, cheetah, hyena, macaw, ichneumon, two North American “leopards.”
(35) J. R. AND WM. HOWE, JR. & CO.’S NEW YORK MENAGERIE, 1832-1834
Formed in New York City in December, 1832, this company was managed by cousins of Epenetus Howe, one of the more active importers of animals. It consisted of: elephant Columbus, two leopards, tiger, hyena, jaguar, margay, albino racoon, monkeys, puma, black wolf, gnu, two North American panthers.
Mr. Whiting, whom we think was the keeper (his name was not in the 1832 ads), entered the leopard’s cage each day, the first example of any form of training of that species.
Much enlarged for 1834, this caravan listed: elephant Columbus, striped hyena tiger, spotted hyena, Bactrian camel, panther, two cheetahs, parrots, ferrets, two ostriches, gnu, Java, tiger, zebra, two dromedaries, emu, leopard, jaguar, deer, pelican, African lion, macaws, African lioness, civit, ichneumons, and guinea pigs.
Some of these must have come from the 1833 shipment from Africa arranged by the Boston Zoological Association (24). In 1835, the Howe collection was combined with June, Titus, Angevine & Co. to form unit #1 of the Zoological Institute.
(36) GREGORY, CRANE & CO., 1833-1834
This firm was a continuation of Birchard & Co (30), most likely as a result of its sale to Spencer Gregory (1802-1882) and Gerard Crane (5, 10). The chief attraction of the collection was the elephant Flora, which was first advertised by that name with this company. The other animals were: polar bear, male leopard, coat-imundi, South American puma, North American panther, tiger, female leopard, ichneumon, albino raccoon, camel, and guinea pigs.
For the 1834 season they had the services of a lion trainer (again, name unknown) and acquired two hyenas, a black bear, and a male and female ostrich. Their route took them into Washington, D. C. in October of that year and it was in that city that the partnership was dissolved. Gerard Crane joined Edward Eldrcd’s American Circus (39). Spencer Gregory combined the animals with some owned by Samuel and J. H. Washburn and formed Gregory, Washburn & Co. This new menagerie then advertised: elephant Flora, elephant Mogul, polar bear, African lion, two hyenas, black bear, Bengal tiger, male leopard, female leopard, camel, male ostrich, female ostrich, female tiger, Major Downing, North American panther, and South American puma.
The elephant Mogul had formerly been known as Timour and is the one we mentioned in (24). The keeper with Gregory, Washburn did an act with the female tiger, thus he was probably not the man who had been with Gregory, Crane & Co. The caravan boasted of having twenty wagons, sixty horses, forty employees and two tents (called pavilions in the usage of the day). In a side pavilion they offered a view of a cosmorama or painting of the world for 12 1/2 cents. This was a picture painted on canvas and mounted on rollers. It was carried in a wagon the sides of which were let down for viewing.
In 1835, Gregory, Washburn & Co. was a unit of the Zoological Institute. At the end of that season the title was retired.
(37) MILLER, MEAD & OLMSTEAD MENAGERIE, 1833-1834
The ship Star from India landed in Philadelphia in early 1833, bearing a full-grown elephant which was eventually given the name Gold Button. John Miller, Abraham Mead and Ira Olmstead formed a menagerie based on this animal. Unfortunately, we have found no advertising that lists anything other than the elephant for 1833.
The title changed to Miller, Mead & Delavan’s Grand Menagerie of Living Animals in 1834. This marks the inclusion of William A. Delavan (1804-1873) as a partner. He was a circus man after 1835 and became one of the leading managers of the 1840s. This menagerie was his first essay into management.
Miller, Mead & Delavan advertised: male panther, female panther, African lion, leopard, striped hyena, genet. Caplain Bill, Major Jack, alpacha, lioness, cheetah and the elephant Gold Button. Lemuel Word, the keeper, used the leopard and the female panther in his performance.
In Augusta, Georgia, at year’s end, this caravan and that of Gregory, Washburn & Co. gave a combined exhibition. The ads listed a zebra and a quagga, but neither company had claimed such during the season. We must speculate that a third party owned the animals and added them for the Augusta stand.
Miller, Mead & Delavan became part of the Zoological Institute in 1835.
(38) S. BUTLER & CO.’S MENAGERIE, 1834
Stephen Butler (b. 1820) entered the menagerie business in 1827 (20), however his name is not seen in connection with any company until this 1834 show. He leased what had been Raymond & Weeks’ American Travelling Menagerie in 1833.
Agrippa Martin (1810-1896) was the keeper for Butler. Martin had begun as a horse trainer for Raymond in 1832. In addition to the African lion that Martin appeared with, the ads listed: elephant Hannibal, male dromedary, llama, two African tigers, female dromedary, serval, two ichneumons, black bear, gray eagle, bald eagle, macaw, monkeys, Dandy Jack, Rocky Mountain panther, puma or South American lioness, Amazon cougar or Brazilian tiger.
The designations for the puma and the Brazilian tiger are examples of the problem mentioned in (11).
In 1835, this menagerie reverted to the Raymond interests and was combined with Miller, Mead & Delavan (37) in the Zoological Institute.
(39) CRANE & ELDRED MENAGERIE AND CIRCUS UNITED, 1834
Edward S. Eldred (1811-1850) owned and operated the American Circus in 1834. Beginning his tour in Mobile, Alabama, in January, he worked his way across the South until he reached Baltimore in October. The Gregory, Crane & Co. menagerie (36) had reached the same area at the same time. There then occurred the transfer we alluded to above, in which Crane joined with Eldred while Gregory joined with the Washburn’s and two new shows were created.
Gregory seems to have taken most of the animals with him, so we assume Crane profited from one of the large shipments from Africa that arrived in 1833 and 1834. In addition to Eldred’s circus performers, the combined show displayed: elephant Pizarro, zebra, mouflon, monkeys, white-footed antelope, leopard, serpents, jackal birds.
The mouflon was the first to be shown in this country. What the antelope might have been we leave to wiser heads. Of the serpents with the caravan, it was said they included an anaconda, a boa constrictor, an embroidered boa and a diamond snake. They were so gentle, it was alleged, that the most timid lady or child could handle them.
Crane & Eldred went into Philadelphia at season’s end and were in the Zoological Institute in 1835.
(40) J. T. & J. P. BAILEY & CO. MENAGERIE AND CIRCUS, 1834
Menageries attached to circuses were small, as a rule, usually five or six cages arranged around the outer circumference of the arena. Bailey & Co., which was descended from Bailey, Brown & Co. and Green & Bailey of 1833, said they had sixteen menagerie wagons, but we would guess they were counting drays as well as cages.
Joseph Todd Bailey (1807-1881) and James Purdy Bailey (1812-1853) were two of the ten children of Hachaliah Bailey, the man we credit for starting all this. Their brother Lewis (1795-1870) had been in the business for some years and we think he owned this menagerie and circus. When it was folded into the Zoological Institute in 1835 it was known as Lewis Bailey & Co.
They said they had many cat animals in their collection; we find reference to a cheetah and three lions. They also had a polar bear and a zebra. Solomon Bailey, a cousin, was the keeper who “will perform the hazardous task of entering the cage each day.”
(41) REUBEN FRENCH, 1834
We use French’s name for this section, though he bought into an existing menagerie according to surviving correspondence. French (d. 1861) first appears in 1830 in Detroit, where he applied for the license for an unidentified animal exhibit. In 1833, in a letter from John Hart Purdy to Isaac Purdy, in Somers, New York, we find that French rented one-quarter of a menagerie and was interested in buying part of it from F. Quick, and had offered $1,000. We do not know which of our menageries Quick and Purdy were operating.
Under the title French, Quick & Co., the caravan paid a $20 license fee in St. Louis in April, 1834. In October, 1834, using the name French, Hobby & Co., they had reached Paris, Tennessee. J. E. M. Hobby was French’s partner by this time. This is our first notice of him; he was active with the Raymond interests as late as 1840. French was one of the signers of the Zoological Institute agreement, the charter of the monopoly. In none of our references before 1835 have we any clue to what animals they might have exhibited.
(42) In January, 1835, in Somers, New York, a gathering of menagerie owners and interested investors took place at which a capital stock company was formed called The Zoological Institute. Its stated purpose was “to more generally diffuse and promote the knowledge of natural history and gratify rational curiosity.”
The corporation assets consisted of all the menageries then in existence, sixteen of them, plus cash contributions from both corporate and individual investors.
The initial capitalization was $329,325. Five directors were appointed and they divided the assets into thirteen shows, three of which had circuses attached to them. There were only five traveling exhibitions in 1835 that were not owned by the Institute, all of them circuses.
The initial season was not a success, and the number of menageries was reduced to seven for 1836. Then, in the next year, the country was gripped by the most devastating economic depression prior to 1929. Called the Panic of 1837, it put paid to the Zoological Institute. From then, the animal exhibition business was in the hands of James Raymond and his rivals, June, Titus, Angevine & Co. Raymond bought the assets of the June interests in 1842 and ruled alone until his death in 1854. At that point the traveling menagerie in America became a matter of but one or two shows each season, a shadow of its onetime dominance of field exhibitions.
1. George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, 15 vols., New York,
2. Hugh Lindsay, History of the Life, Travels and Incidents of Col. Hugh Lindsay, the Celebrated Comedian, for a period of Thirty-Seven Years (Philadelphia, n.p. 1859).
The complete story of the Zoological Institute can be found in Stuart Thayer, Annals of the American Circus, Vol. II, 1830-1847 (Seattle, the author, 1986.)
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