Monday, December 30, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Precious memories

I received this from Paul Tharp the other day. What great old memories!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New listings on my Circus Store website

I have added more posters to my Circus Store this weekend and will be adding many new Heralds tomorrow. There are more Conover Photos going to be added soon as well. I've been scanning and cropping photos all weekend long. Check out the new items at

Sunday, December 08, 2013

So far behind!

Greetings to one and all. I have been having so much trouble with blogger over the last few months, I have just about stopped posting here anymore. It just isn't fun when nothing works like it's supposed to. I have learned a few back door items to get this up and I may continue messing with it somemore. Last night I put 12 new posters up on my website for sale. No bidding, just a great purchase price.

I have been a seller on eBay for over 12 years and have had a bunch of fun during that time but since the economic crash in 2007, it's not the same anymore either. So I have everything off of eBay right now as well.

You can see the newly listed posters at Remember, Christmas is coming!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hunt Bros. winter quarters

 Bob Momyer was kind enough to send in this photo of the sign that marks where the Hunt Bros. winter quarters used to be. There is a fast food joint there now. Thanks, Bob. We appreciate you sharing this photo.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Kelly Farm

I was told yesterday that the Paul Kelly farm is now up for sale. I'm not surprised. The elephant barn had already had the roof collapse in it. You and I both know that a bulldozer will clean the place out one of these days. Certainly the oldest winter quarters still standing is the Ringling facilities in Baraboo, then the Cole Bros. Circus winter quarters in Deland which dates back to the 1920's or earlier when Johnny J. Jones had it. There's the remaining structures at the International Hall of Fame which were the American Circus Corporation winter quarters and there are two remaining buildings in York, SC of the old Barnett Bros. Circus. The ring barn still stands in Macon, Ga. that was part of the Sparks winter quarters and later used by Floyd King and Company.

Does anyone know if the Sig Sautelle building still stands or any of the Hunt Bros. buildings? When were the first Kelly-Miller buildings erected and do they still exist?

The Paul Kelly farm would be the only other winter quarters remaining from the 1940's.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eddie Kelly

I received word from Jim Elliott the other day that Eddie Kelly had passed away. Eddie as many of you remember was the quite behind the scenes kind of guy around the Kelly farm with his mom and dad performing the animals. Eddie was always a kind soul whenever I visited and they always hated to see us leave.

Just this past summer, the CHS Convention was held in Peru. We were told that Eddie was in a facility. The original CHS visit to the Kelly farm had been cancelled after Dorothy passed away at the age of 100 in December. Since that time, someone had been stealing everything they could get their hands on out of the barns. They were actually arrested while the CHS Convention was there.

I've since heard that the buildings have deteriorated to the point that the elephant barn has had the roof cave in. This seems to point to the end of a long line of circus history at the Kelly farm.

I posted what I could find abount Eddie in the next post.

Eddie Kelly

Edward B. Kelly 83 of Peru, IN passed away at 12:15 AM Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at Caring Hands Health and Rehab. He was born in Chicago on March 28, 1930 the son of Paul B. and Dorothy Rush Kelly.

Ed graduated from Chicago Vocational High School in 1951 and attended Chicago Teachers College for one year. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1948 and served with the 210th Field Artillery and the 33rd Infantry Division and was discharged in 1955 as a Corporal.

Ed was a circus trainer of elephants and horses and was instrumental in the operations of the Kelly Circus Winter Quarters. He was a member of Terrell Jacob’s Cheerful Gardner Tent #107.

He is survived by two sisters, Dolores Doll of Bourbon, IN and Marilyn Sullivan and her husband Mike of Tarpon Springs, FL. Six nieces and nephews Kathryn, Patrick, Paul, Sharon, Michael and Susan. Ten great nieces and nephews Kelly, Thomas, PJ, Matthew, Anna, Steven, Shea, Tara, Abigail and Alexis. Two great-great niece’s Karle and Kaylee.

He was preceded in death by his father Paul, his mother Dorothy and his brother-in-law Frank Doll.

A Mass of Christian Burial celebrating the life of Edward B. Kelly will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday October 12, 2013 at the Saint Charles Catholic Church, 58 W. 5th Street in Peru, IN, with Reverend Donald Eder officiating. Burial will be in Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru. Family and friends will gather from 2:00-6:00 PM Friday at the Eikenberry-Eddy Funeral Home, 84 West Main Street, Peru, IN. There will be a prayer service at 5:30 PM Friday at the Funeral Home.

Ed was an unsung, underappreciated hero caring for both of his parents at home until their passing. Ed will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers Memorial donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Funeral Home.

Friday, September 20, 2013

CHS Elections

Good Morning,
       As all of the Circus Historical Society members are now receiving their Bandwagons, they'll also find an election ballot for Trusttees of the CHS. There is also room for Write-in Candidates and JOHN PETERS has asked me to let you know he would like to be a write-in. Please vote for him. Here's a little Biography about John for those that might not know him.

I was born in 1945 (just turned 68) and raised in Peru, IN and became a circus fan at an early age. I was a performer in the Peru circus as a clown for several years and served as the youngest member of the Circus City Festival board before drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam conflict. Shortly after my two years of service I married my wife, Evangelia "Lee" and we briefly lived in Indiana, New York, West Virginia and the last 13 years in Florida. In 2012, I was the Grand Marshal in the Peru circus parade. My aunt is Joanne Griebling, Otto's daughter.

I'm employed by Roebic Laboratories, Inc. or Orange, CT as Vice President Global Sales & Market Development. We have 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren. I have been a member of the CHS since around 1964 (member #1069) and also a member of CFA, CMB, and the WCA. I'm also a member of the Circus City Festival and the International Circus Hall of Fame, both located in Peru.

I'm submitting my name to be placed on the ballet to become a trustee for the CHS. I feel I have the time to offer my services and make a contribution to the CHS.

John Peters, CHS#1069

Jupiter, F

Saturday, August 31, 2013

In my opinion. . . .

          I don't try to voice my opinion very often rather, I prefer to share our circus history for all to enjoy. Sadly, the announcement of the Feld organization wanting to have their wagons and artifacts returned that have been on loan to the Circus World Museum since the mid 1980s has brought out lots of resentment by some and even bad information by others. I just read today where someone was under the impression that many of the wagons at CWM were on loan. NOT TRUE! Yes, the Two Hemispheres Bandwagon is owned privately by John Zweifel but everything else at CWM is there to stay once these six wagons leave.
         In my opinion, I see this as a good thing. There's is not doubt in my mind that the Feld organization will take as good as care as possible of these fine examples of the circuses before them. In fact, I imagine, they'll all be spruced up and put in tip top shape again in Florida for the magnificent display they have planned. Yes, the costumes and floats from the Chinese based spec display will all be coming out of the Feld Building. Quite Frankly, YEAH! I love Circus World Museum as much as anyone else does. I don't get to go every year but when I do get to go ( 6 times in the last 10 years ) I've seen the same exact exhibit of RBBB Costumes and floats. Actually, the display has been there for nearly 20+ years.
         With the Feld artifacts being removed, the Circus World Museum now has a golden opportunity to display some of their amazing artifacts that they never had a place for in the last 30 years. Just imagine some of the great Circus Parade wardrobe on display, old time circus side show banners, props, or other wagons being highlighted? The Possibilities are endless. The Cinderella float was splendid in the ring with miniature spotlights on it at the Cincinnati Art Museum display of the Amazing Circus Poster Exhibit. Imagine that on a slowly revolving turntable. Ah, yes, the possibilities are endless.
         Having the hugely successful gala in the Feld Building has been mentioned as a terrific idea with great possibilities. It's already air conditioned for one. What would you be more excited about? Going to see the same thing again and again and again or going to see something entirely new and different? That's just MY opinion. I'm sure everyone has one.

         Here's looking forward to a bright future for our beloved Circus World Museum.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

End of Season Bash in Baraboo!

Come to the Big Show -
End of the Season Social at Baraboo
All CWM, Inc. Members and all friends of Circus World are invited to join in an
End of the Season Social in Baraboo....

All circus enthusiast are invited to Gem City Saloon, on the corner of Water Street and Ash Street at the four way Stop just West of Circus World.
Time is 6:00PM on Saturday August 31st, it is Dutch Treat and they offer anything from beverages to Great Pizza to Sandwiches.
So come join us after the last Saturday Show at CWM just down the block for great conversation and reuniting with old and new friends.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Special showing TONIGHT!

Make your travel plans to the Asolo theater at the Ringling Museums tonight for a very special showing of "the Greatest Show on Earth" featuring Jackie LeClaire, Mary Jane Miller and LaNorma Fox all live, on stage beginning at 6:30 PM. BE THERE!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Great Circus Train by Bruce Nelson

America's Greatest Circus Train, a 208-page hardbound, is authored by Bruce Nelson, a career transportation professional and historian. This all-color 10” x10” book brings back the days when the colorful Circus Train ran from the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, through both Wisconsin and Illinois, delighting thousands of spectators. The new book features 335 mostly color photographs and illustrations, and has been in development for more than 10 years.

In text and photographs the book captures the color and excitement of the Circus Train, how it originated, its passengers, contents, loading and unloading of wagons, rail routes and planning, and finally how it faded away. “Railfans, circus enthusiasts, former spectators at the Circus Parades and children of all ages will appreciate the detailed documentation this volume presents,” says Don Heimburger, publisher.

The steam- and diesel-operated Circus Train was the source of the historic circus wagons used in the Milwaukee and Chicago circus parades that drew millions of spectators between 1965 and 2003. Over the years, the train consisted of up to 29 vintage cars carrying hundreds of guests and almost 90 historic horse-drawn wagons. Pulled at times by restored steam locomotives and at others by the most modern of diesels, the train operated over six different railroads using eight primary routes covering hundreds of miles per year. People in towns and cities all along the train's route anticipated the annual event. The Circus Parade was once the highlight of the summer season in Milwaukee, capturing the imagination of adults and children throughout the surrounding states and the world.

Like the days of yesteryear, when a number of carnivals and circuses moved across the country by rail, the Museum's Circus Train presented an image of the past, thrilling crowds wherever it went. The Circus Parade—and later the train—began when a major sponsor, the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee, agreed to underwrite them.

In 1962 the Museum staged a modest street parade in Baraboo to gauge public reaction, and the response exceeded expectations. With the Museum and the Schlitz Brewing Company working together, the first parade in Milwaukee was held on July 4, 1963.  Over the years, the two-hour-long parade saw as many as 125 parade units comprised of 2,000 costumed participants, 1,000 musicians, 700 horses, 100 clowns and dozens of vintage circus wagons over a three-mile route.

The Circus Train first appeared with its vintage cars in 1965, and ran until 2003, with several lapses. During the years, the train was routed over several railroads in Illinois and Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Road, the Chicago & North Western, the Wisconsin Central, the Canadian Pacific, the Canadian National and the Wisconsin & Southern. “The trips required an inordinate amount of planning by the Museum and the railroads,” says author Nelson, including running time, stops and viewing locations, meeting schedules, obtaining water for the steam-operated runs, and care of the wagons and animals.

“The Circus Train ran because its proponents refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and persevered despite seemingly insurmountable odds,” continues Nelson.

The new book contains a Foreword by Fred Dahlinger Jr., one-time director of the Robert L. Parkinson Library and the Research Center at the Circus World Museum, and a well-known circus historian. Dahlinger is now curator of circus history at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Florida.

The Circus World Museum, operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society, began in 1959 to collect, preserve and present circus history. Today the museum owns the foremost collection of large circus and carnival pieces in the United States, including wagons, railcars and memorabilia. It also owns the former Ringling Bros. Circus railroad car shops in Baraboo.

America's Greatest Circus Train

  • Hardcover, 208 pages, 10 x 10 in.
  • Illustrations: 335
  • Item Number: 214273
  • EAN (ISBN-13): 978-0911581645
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2013
  • Publisher: Heimburger House Publishing Company

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

From Tim O'Brien

     We all know and love Ward Hall for the amazing sideshows he has created through the years. Now, Ward promises the “Whole” story in the new, official biography that veteran journalist Tim O’Brien is now writing. The process has just begun and Tim and Ward have teamed up with Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, to raise funds to help make sure this project becomes a reality. Please check out the site and the colorful video of Ward to learn of their plans and see the awesome awards that have been created for those who help out by participating in the project. Many include personal interaction with Ward and entry level to be a part of this book project is only $2. Hopefully, the sideshow community will get behind Ward and Tim and make what promises to be an engaging and colorful biography – a reality! Please check out our Kickstarter page and the special video of Ward.

Tim sent this to me about two weeks ago when Blogger was locked up. Then I was gone to the CHS Convention so I apologize for the delay in getting this out.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Circus City Festival Parade

With an early morning downpour overwith, the humidity had finally broken, blue skies were shining and the crowds were coming out. No sir, it wasn't going to rain on our parade today!

Circus City Festival Parade

The circus parade featured parade wagons and baggage wagons alike. Circus Parade or Horse Dung Trail, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Circus City Festival Parade

Our CHS President, Judy Griffin, was given the ride of a lifetime as part of the parade this year. This is a Rick Purdue photo. His turned out so much better than mine.

Circus City Festival Parade

Every parade needs the marching bands and what better way to have a circus parade than a band playing circus music.

Here's the grest brass...... Wait a minute,... Jim, did you take my video? What's going on here?

Circus City Festival Parade

Here's Mr. Brian Miser, his wife Tina, and their daughter who is one of the performers in the youth circus.

Circus City Festival Parade

Here's one of the all time great guys out there, Mr. Dom Yodice riding on the "Greatest Show on Earth" Betty Hutton Trapeze float. Dom and Mike BButash have been in Peru all week working on getting a couple more wagons refreshed again.

Circus City Festival Parade

There's nothing like an old fashioned steam calliope to bring up the rear of a great circus parade. Here is the original Gentry Bros. Calliope. The elephants followed a good distance behind.

The CHS Convention was going to the Miami County Musuem in the afternoon and then enjoying the International Circus Hall of Fame Induction banquet where Jacqueline Zerbini Garden was being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

I was heading towards Ohio after the parade so I'll have to get the reports from others of the Banquet.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

International Circus Hall of Fame

Today was spent out at the International Circus Hall of Fame. Several talks were given about the circus under the Big Top. We enjoyed a 60 piece concert band from the Indiana Symphony under the direction of Charles Conrad, talked with John Fugate and Tino Wallenda Zoppe early in the morning, then caught all the activities out there including the circus performance, demonstrations, the exhibits, catered lunch and more.
This is the Sig Sautelle Band Chariot. It was built by Sullivan and Eagle right here in Peru.

International Circus Hall of Fame

This was a small exhibit about the movie the Greatest Show on Earth.

International Circus Hall of Fame

When you talk about great circus music, you have the names of Fred Jewell, Karl L. King, Sousa and Merle Evans come up in the conversations. Here's a nice display dedicated to Merle's fabulous career on the circus bandstand.

Peru Youth Circus

This evening we were astonished at the professional performance of the Peru Youth Circus. Every performer is under the age of 21. We saw so many things that just aren't seen in the travelling circus anymore. There were double traps, swinging ladders, iron jaw on three occasions, rolling globe, teeterboard, unsupported ladders, cradle acts, six ladies on a 6 trapeze configuration and three young ladies in a cube framed design. That was really interesting. The flying trapeze even had a flyer piggy back over to the catcher on another flyer.
You hear some people say they have a bucket list. This HAS to be one your list of things to go see. You won't be disappointed.

Peru Youth Circus

This incredible team of performers did some amazing tricks and climaxed their act with the seven person pyramid. needless to say, they received a standing ovation.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What a great morning!

The Welcome wagon was set-up right beside this beautifully etched glass near the pool of the Best Western in Circus City.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Welcome to Peru

This was this year's official souvenir poster for all of the Convention goers.

Magic Lantern Projector

Having never seen a Magic Lantern Projector before, this was pretty interesting stuff.

Magic Lantern Slides

Dick Moore brought his amazing collection of hand tinted magic lantern slides in from Connecticut to amaze everyone with turn of the century color photography.

Circus Music

 Charles Conrad brought a unique presentation to the stage when 25 members of the Indiana Symphony came to play pieces of circus music that was interwoven into his story of the European travels of the Barnum & Bailey circus bands.

Grand Prize Bidder

Tonight's auction featured a rare 1892 lithograph from Strobridge that was mounted on linen. The winning bidder this year was Daniel Lyon from Canada. What a great piece.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let's get started!

This was the Paul and Dorothy Kelly Circus Farm. The Cole Bros. Circus came to rest here. Some of the wagons didn't sell at the auction around 1997 and have remained right where they were ever since. I was told tonight that Eddie Kelly is now living in a facility nearby.

Let's Get Started

Here's part of the showcase exhibits at the Miami County Museum in downtown, Peru.

Let's get started!

This is the triple headed stake driver that was at the Paul Kelly farm for so many years until the auction there around 1997 when it was bought by the International Circus Hall of Fame.

Let's get started!

The Robbins Bros. Circus was based out of the Rochester Winter Quarters which is about 20 miles from Peru.

Let's get started!

This forge is located inside the wagon sheds at the International Circus Hall of Fame. As you can see, when they were building the wagons they were doing their own fabricating of steel at the same time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lot's to do in Peru!

If you are coming to Peru during Circus week, you HAVE to see the Youth Circus.

Lot's to do in Peru!

You won't want to miss the Miami County Museum's collection. The Museum is housed in the old Ben Wallace owned Dept. Store. They have quite a circus collection to do research in as well. I've been there most of the day myself.

Lot's to do in Peru!

Art and Grace Johns were good friends of my aunt and uncle, Bill and Gen Lerche. We had the chance to meet them when we were young. Many of you remember Art as a show painter who painted above all the cages at the Kelly farm / Terrell Jacobs barn.

Lot's to do in Peru!

You should go see the International Circus Hall of Fame members board while in Peru. You'll see the names of some circus legends there.

Lot's to do in Peru!

Perhaps you would like to get your tickets here. Dom Yodice will be glad to give you a ticket you can exchange for a paint brush and a gallon of paint.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Peru - here we come!

The day has finally arrived when the train heads for Peru, Indiana. Having spent two glorious days at home again with my mom and my brother, it's time to head for the huge Circus Historical Society Convention in Peru. Come on, let's go!