Union City Celebrates the Circus
The John Robinson Circus Comes To Union City
Getting ready for a circus performance took a lot of work. The Union City Times of June 29, 1911, describes how the John Robinson Circus got ready for its performance in Union City. As soon as the circus arrived, everyone got to work. all of the circus workers were divided into squads. There was a car squad, a tent squad, and animal, driver, cooking and ring squads. Early in the morning all of the squads except the ring squad were already hard at work.
The animal and driver squads fed and harnessed the horses. The drivers were divided into two groups. One group took the wagons, tents, and poles to the show grounds. The other driver squad drove the teams of horses that helped in the unloading. There were six teams and drivers who unloaded the John Robinson Shows.
Three teams hauled the wagons down the steep hill from the railroad tracks to the ground. Three more teams took the wagons from the edge of the hill to a place out of the way so the work wouldn't have to be stopped by waiting for the men who took the wagons to the show ground.
One man hooked a rope to the wagon first in line. Two other men guided the tongue from one car to another down the hill. At the back of the wagon, the men fastened another rope to steady it as it went own the hill. One man guided the rope, which is wound around a stake securely fastened to the railroad car.
The men hitched two or three teams of horses to each wagon to haul it to the circus grounds. There were about ten squads of men busy with taking the wagons to the circus grounds. While the wagons were being unloaded from the railroad cars and pulled by horse team to the circus grounds, animal squads were preparing to remove the animals from the railroad cars. They unloaded the animals and took them to the circus grounds, where they were carefully groomed for the morning parade.
It took the men three hours to unload and transfer all of the equipment and animals to the circus grounds. There were about 100 men in these squads and each squad had its own boss.
In the John Robinson Circus of 1911, there were 500 head of horses. There were 300 performers, including Adna, the only lady somersault rider on earth. Herr Schmit, the strongest man on earth was also an important act. A Bible pageant called "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," featured 1,000 men, women and horses in the cast. There were 30 clowns and Joe Coyle, four years old, was the youngest clown with the circus.
The Union City Times said that the circus had a large herd of elephants, some other fine animals and a goat. It said there was a large crowd of people at both the afternoon and evening shows and everybody had a good time, including the goat!
The Dan Rice Circus performed in Union City. The Colonel and his acts pitched their tents on the island block of the Johnson House where the barn now stands. He stayed at the old Bennett House which stood on the site of Opera House Block.
June 12, 1873
The Great Pacific Circus is in Union City.
August 4, 1880
Mrs. Stephens secured a contract for baking four hundred loaves for bread for the Welsh and Sands great circus.
August 10, 1880
The event of the season has come and gone. Yesterday, an immense amount of people were in town to witness the largest and best street parade ever made here by the Welsh and Sands great circus. Music was furnished by two good bands, in addition to the steam piano. The electric light was well displayed. The baby elephant, sea lions, and smallest horse ever exhibited came in for their full share of the praise. The riding, tumbling, and several other features advertised were exhibited, and immense crowds attended afternoon and evening.
June 23, 1881
The Inter-Ocean Circus came to Union City. Performances were attended by immense crowds of delighted people.
September 3, 1885
The Frank Robbins circus came to Union City yesterday. The grounds were very wet from the heavy rains of the day before, so the grounds were muddy, making it disagreeable for both spectators and performers.
The show went on as advertised and was one of the finest ring entertainments ever given in Union City. The riding was first class, the tumbling good, the bicycle act with the trapeze performed well. The performance from beginning to end was superb.
The gentleman from the genial proprietor, Mr. Robbins on to the canvass men, were untiring in their efforts to please the audience, and right well did they accomplish their object. There was none of the catch penny games allowed on the grounds as usual on circus days. Mr. Robbins does not allow these with his show.
May 23, 1895
Reynold's world United Shows Circus Menagerie and Moorish Caravan will exhibit in Union City on Tuesday, May 28th. Since last year the show has been greatly enlarged and improved and now ranks with the colossal amusement enterprises of the country. Performers show names are high in the profession will be seen in feats of matchless skill and daring. The admission is 25 cents.
January 23, 1896
Some little excitement was caused at the P & E depot last Monday morning when the Kane train arrived in Union City. A leopard had broke out of its cage and was loose in the mail and express car. The leopard had broken out of its cage at Kane and cleared the car of its keepers. When the train reached Erie, the leopard was sick from an over feed of oysters and was easily secured by one of the men belonging t the Walter S. Main shows.
May 20, 1907
An exciting feature act, which any other amusement enterprise would charge a high price of admission to exhibit, Cole Brothers United Shows offers absolutely free as an out-in-the-open ar attraction. It is advertised as "Spanning Death's arch," and judging from the information at hand it is a real blood chilling thriller. Twice daily, immediately after the street parade and again at 6:30 p.m., Madomoiselle Zizzl, a Parisian belle, is raised to the very apex of a towering frail wooden inclined plane where she mounts a slender bicycle and then plunges at lightning speed apparently to her doom.
Thirty feet from the ground the structure curves upward for a short distance and then abruptly ends. At this point, the great momentum attained by the fearless rider's bike sends both onward into space and high above the backs of a herd of elephants. For 55 feet, M'llle Zizzi skims through the air as gracefully as a bird, she and her machine describing a half circle over the chasm in which grim death seems lurking with arms outstretched to greet the expected victim, landing safely upon the second section of the narrow path and then riding to terra firma. Again has this intrepid young French beauty accomplished that which no other woman ever attempted and is bowing and smiling her acknowledgments to the cheering thousands of onlookers whose very hearts were fairly stilled during her wild flight.