Thursday, May 15, 2008

From Nigel Rothfels

chicago_1917, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Dear Buckles,

Could you find time to tell me what you know about "Nellie" on Ringling
in 1917? There is a picture, which I think is of her in Chicago in 1917
(attached), and I hope you can tell me a bit more about her.

Hope this finds you well. We've been having a beautiful spring week up
here in Wisconsin.


"I see a question mark by the date 1917, Ringling Bros. had two "Nellies" in the 1910's so I'll send the info on both." Buckles

1896- Imported with the Lockhart Elephants from England.
1896-14 Ringling Bros. Circus
1915-16 Gollmar Bros. Circus (Leased from RB)
1917 Sold to Wm. P. Hall
1917 Coop & Lent Circus (Leased from Hall)
1918-19 Yankee Robinson Circus (Fred Buchanan)
1920-21 Howes Great London (Amer. Circus Corp.)
1922 Sold to Floyd & Howard King but broke away while being delivered to the King's in Tupelo, Miss. became mired in the mud and died of exposure.

"In 1910 the Ringlings revived the Forepaugh-Sells Circus and purchased an act from Hagenbeck in Germany that consisted of three young elephants "Nellie", "Jennie" and "Rio" included in the act were several Great Dane dogs."


1910-11 Forepaugh-Sells Circus
1912-18 Ringling Bros. Circus
1919-49 Ringling-Barnum Circus
1950 Sold to a party named Steve Brodie who then shipped her to Cuba.

"If 1917 is correct, this has to be the elephant" Buckles


Anonymous said...

I believe this photo was taken on South Wabash Ave looking south. The structure on the left appears to be the front of the Coliseum where Ringling opened almost every spring starting in 1901.

I saw "almost" as they opened at the Garden in 1909 and sent B&B here to open- not the smartest of decisions as it turned out and the next year they went back to Plan A.

Anonymous said...

Imagine the descriptions that flowed from the children later, as they verbalized what their senses of touch, hearing and smell revealed to them about the strange beast. Nellie appears to have been rather small in stature but long in patience, to have accomodated so many inquiring minds.

I think Ole Whitey has the setting correctly specified. It must have been a mild Windy City April in 1917, given the childrens' clothing. The Ringling outfit was there April 7 to 29 inclusive.

Could that truck in the background have been used to haul the elephant? It looks like an open top straight bed truck with some sort of crate in the back.

Here's the rationale for posing the hypothetical question. Jay Beardsley sold a set of Barnum & Bailey parade photographs that were taken in Chicago on September 2 or 3, 1917, when the circus played White City amusement park. It, too, was a "Ringling Bros. circus," though not in public name. Could they have trucked an elephant from White City over to the neighborhood of the Coliseum for some reason? Circuses provided many experiences for those in hospitals, prisons and elsewhere, as well as finnacial benefits, and maybe this was another example?

Nigel, UWM library likely has the Chicago Tribune on ProQuest and it might be checked for coverage of the two circus visitations.

Buckles said...

The most likely scenario is that this event was set up in front of the Chicago Stadium and the Press Dept. asked Denman to fetch an elephant out on the street.
The elephant has been placed in a prone position as a safety precaution, should she become frightened you have a moment to get a grip on her as she rights herself.