Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Interesting Circus Document Which Resently Sold On Ebay

IMPORTANT circus related document dated November 21st 1867, at an extremely early period in Adam Forepaugh’s entertainment career. Written from Petersburg, most likely in Illinois (an early winter circus town there), it is SIGNED by Forepaugh at the conclusion. It is also SIGNED by Frank Kelsh, as a witness to Forepaugh’s signature and intentions. The autograph material of Adam Forepaugh is RARE in any form.
In the document, Adam Forepaugh is selling to John Forepaugh Jr. what essentially comprises the elements of a circus + menagerie, that is to say the various animals (elephant and camel) and equipment necessary to operate a circus. I believe these circus components may have been originally part of the Jerry Mabie Menagerie which Forepaugh and John O’Brien had jointly purchased a few years earlier. More research is probably warranted.
Since Adam Forepaugh had an older brother named John A. Forepaugh, which happens to be the name of their father as well, it would seem logical to assume that the John Forepaugh Jr. listed as the buyer in this document was his brother. John A. Forepaugh would help manage many of his brother Adam’s circus enterprises.
Document reads as follows, “Bought of Adam Forepaugh Ten Cages Animals, 1 Eliphant 1 Dromidary one Ticket Wagon one Band Chariot Thirty ( the following words are also written in the text, but have been crossed outTHREE HORSES, THREE PONIES TWO MULES, THIRTY SETS HARNESSES ) One Canvass Tent and dressing room, three setts entrée dresses complete one set seats, poles, chains + ropes, together with all the appurtenances of the Circus + Menagerie Known as the Southern concern and managed by F M Kelsh for the sum of Thirty Three Thousand dollars / Received payment Adam Forepaugh (signed) / Witness F M Kelsh (signed)”.

ADAM FOREPAUGH (1831 – 1890) began his circus career in 1864 and would have a show under his own name from 1866 to 1890. Adam Forepaugh had sold some horses to John O’Brien who was running a small wagon show called the Tom King Excelsior Circus. When O'Brien could not repay the loan, Forepaugh assumed partial ownership in the show as payment, getting him into the circus business. Forepaugh and O’Brien together purchased the Jerry Mabie menagerie for $25,000 and then comined the assests to create two separate circuses – the Great National Circus and the Dan Rice Circus In the winter of 1865-66, Forepaugh would sever his relationship with O’Brien. Soon after, Forepaugh would sell the Great National Circus and continue the Dan Rice Circus under his own name. By 1880, Forepaugh was the most formidable rival of P.T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth”. He added a “Wild West Show” component to his circus by the late 1880’s, featuring Captain Adam H. Bogardus who held the title of Champion Wingshot of America. In 1889, Forepaugh sold his circus acts to James A. Bailey and James E. Cooper and his railroad cars to the Ringling Brothers.

FRANCIS “FRANK” M. KELSH (1822 – 1890) was a longtime circus agent and manager. He was with Adam Forepaugh in 1867.


dpowhitetiger said...

Thanks for posting...Adam Forepaugh Tent No. 2 CFA received it's charter in 1930...Reactivated 2000 with the addition of Barry Lubin "Grandma" name. We have done the same with another old tent. Emmett Kelly-Bello Nock Tent No. 41. So much cirus history goes along with the Forepaugh name. My late grandfather who I got the habit of wearing a hat use to tell me about Adam Forepaugh.

Wade G. Burck said...

Thank you for that tent history. I didn't realize that your tent had been reactivated in 2000. To me it just seemed like it had been around forever. I appreciated being pictured on their facebook recently.

By the way, have you heard anything about the Wade Burck/Roy Wells Dakota tent? Well, neither have I........... THAT'S BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ONE!!!!!! WHY THE HELL IS THAT, PAL!!!!!!! Shoot, get the John Herriott Mid-Hudson Valley, New York Tent on the bandwagon, if you have to. That cranky old bastard, God love him, is from Minnesota and if a three for combination deal would grease the skids to get the deal done Roy and I could probably agree on calling it American Heartland Tent No. 1, and include Herriott.

Did your late hat wearing grandfather, all due respect, also get you into the habit of not seeing to important things? You have done absolutely nothing for me, Ring of Fame wise, so let's see what you can do about a tent, ok?

Kind regards,