Saturday, December 29, 2007


Scan000010650, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Anonymous

afternoon buckles (& friends), would you have any info or pics of an elephant named Minnie (567)& later 'Old Minnie'? She came from Hamburg and worked for RBBB, Mills Bros, AG Barnes, tulsa zoo and later with Circus Vargas. I believe she passed in '78. Later in life I remember she was missing an eye. Any info on where she may be buried? Thanks for your time.

"Minnie" was imported in 1929, she arrived with another small elephant named "Dolly" but for some reason they were never trained for the ring and all they did was walk in spec wearing clown suits as this 1933 picture above shows.
Slivers Madison once told me that he was on the Barnes Show in 1934 when these two arrived and sure enough they knew absolutely nothing and had to be trained from scratch.
At the close of the 1938 season all the Barnes elephants were moved into Sarasota and "Minnie" and "Dolly" found themselves back with the Ringling Show.
In the 40's both survived the Hartford and Cleveland fires as well as the elephant poisonings in Atlanta and in 1948 Hugo Schmitt picked them out to work in the center ring act with his five German elephants.
While in Sarasota the winter of 1949-50 while people were visiting the elephant area, a small child wandered under the guard rail and startled "Dolly" who was dozing, she then kicked out fatally injuring the child. As the result of public outcry, she was shot 3/29/50 and for unknown reasons "Minnie" was sold to the Mills Show in the fall.
You seem to be up to speed from that point forward. I have a picture of "Minnie" carrying a lion on a howdah with Vargas but it eludes me.

1924-33 Ringling-Barnum Circus
1934-38 Al G. Barnes Circus
1939-50 Ringling-Barnum Circus
1951-53 Mills Bros. Circus
1954-55 Ben Fain......Van Buren, Ark.
1956-..... Mohawk Zoo Tulsa, Okla.
.........- 1972 Gene Holter Ranch
1973-77 Circus Vargas
(As I recall she died at some sort of Veterinary facility north of 1000 Oaks in 1979)


Anonymous said...

I remember Minnie on Vargas. In 1977, she didn't work anymore and was only walking in the Spec at the beginning of the show. My father talked Mr Vargas into giving her to a place in California where she could live out the rest of her life in retirement. My dad was worried about her traveling because of her age. I believe she lived 2 or 3 years in retirement.
Darlene Williams

Bob Cline said...

The January 30, 1954 edition of Billboard carried an ad placed by The Mills Show offering Minnie for sale for $2500.00 being blind in one eye.

My research discovered she passed away in Moorpark, CA.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone who replied to my questions about Minnie. Darlene, I remember you as a little girl at Vargas. I was there in '76 for afew months working for Drake & your folks, this is where I met & cared for 'Old Minnie". In 1978 i began my career as a smokejumper and i'm still jumping 30 years later! I have a ranch in northern British Columbia where i rehabilitate and train horses. I looked at your resume on the web and can only say, WOW! You have lived an exciting life!!
thanks for your comments, Mr Cline and Buckles. I look forward to your blog on my in-box. Any further info or pics anyone may want to share, please forward to: CHEERS.