Monday, September 01, 2008

Reuben Castang (From Joey Ratliff)

reuben castang, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Rueben Castang elephant act, New York Hippodrome 1907.
Note the wooden tubs.


"Mr. Castang has always been a bit of an enigma to me. My info on him is very sketchy and to add to the confusion, the name Philip Castang appears occasionally."

1904 Hagenbeck Animals at the St. Louis World's Fair
1905-06 Carl Hagenbeck Show
1907 Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus
1909 Dode Fisk Show



Bob Cline said...

Would you think that this act was indeed the Hagenbeck Wallace elephants?
While there were individually owned elephant acts in the early 1900's, I just can't imagine a single ownership with 12 elephants. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Buckles said...

If I had to make a guess I'd say they were the Hagenbeck elephants prior to or during the St. Louis World's Fair.
As is known, they were with the 1905-06 Carl Hagenbeck Circus that folded in Mexico.
Then sold to Ben Wallace who took the liberty of adding the Haganbeck title to his Great Wallace Shows.

Anonymous said...

IN Hollywood in 54 on the movie Jupiters Darlang with the Cole Show elephants each Sunday off George Emerson would take me and Bert and Marie Pettus to see the various places of interest. One was a kind of little suberbum attraction and there was Rueben Castang. He was in a large walk in cage with a very large male chimp sitting in a chair [both he and the chimp] and would do a little routine for the public featurin the chimp t6hreading a needle. He was kind of a chubby old fellow and seem to recall a kind of crisp British accent. I was vaguly awre who he was, but George elaborated on what a great aimal trainer he had been. Seems like that van was parked right there aqnd the cage was a trailor on wheels. Could be he was busquing. I can't recall. That picture is just great. Old trainers never die, they get a single O chimp, dog jump thru a hoop or a pick out pony. Maybe like Swede Johnson start clowning, or start working in a "boiler room"

Anonymous said...

In Lorenz Hagenbeck's book he wrote about bringing 36 elephants to the US. 20 went to Luna Park in Coney Island, 8 to Ringling, and 8 to the show at the 1904 STL World's Fair. Hagenbeck was partnered with some US promoters that would have the show at the fair and then take it on tour. As mentioned it folded.

In Reuben Castang's book he mentions taking over the elephant act that was trained by Wm. Philadelphia. Didn't Philadelphia also train Hugo Schmitt?

Anonymous said...

Jim, A little info from Castangs book on his activities here in America for so many years. Wasn't he on Beatty RR or maybe Arthur Bros. with his chimps. I think he trained cats as well. Sure would be interested to hear more about him. Was he around Louie Gobel operations? Thanks, Johnny

Anonymous said...

To Jim A...The St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 was also known as The Louisiana Purchase Exposition. It was the second World's Fair held in St. Louis; the first was the St. Louis Exposition in 1884. The Fair celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase (delayed one year). It opened April 30, 1904, and closed December 1 the same year.

Anonymous said...

There's an organization dedicated to the 1904 Fair, or offically the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in the St. Louis area. I joined mainly to find out more about Hagenbeck's show. It was probably the first use of moated animal exhibits (often credited to Hagenbeck's Park in 1908). Some of the Worlds Fair Society's members have some amazing memorabilia from the Fair. The STL still has the large Bird Cage that was the Smithsonian's exhibit.

As to Castang: He was from England. His father was in the animal business and an associate of Hagenbeck -- sent his son there for experience. Cantang went to the Fair with a goat act but eventually also worked mixed cage group and the elephants. The elephants were often pictured going down a large slide into a pool. Must have been something.

Phil said...


I am Philip Castang Reuben was my great, great Uncle.
From what my grandfather told me all the stories are true.
Amazing to think we are still talking about this legendary man.
You can find other Castang animal connections going back to supplying birds to Darwin and further.
Best wishes