Monday, January 03, 2011

The Three Georges!

Scan00000010128, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

There were three elephant men named George on the Barnum Show throughout the 1800's that would alternate as boss bull man, George Arstingstall, George Bates and George Conklin. They were probably played against each other.
Conklin remained in charge of the menagerie throughout his years there and having outlived the others his version became the final word in the Saturday Evening Post interviews.
My dad said he was told that Bates was the best of the three.

1870-74 John O'Brien Circus
1875-76 W.W. Cole Show
1887-07 Barnum & Bailey
(1887- 91 Menagerie Supt.)
(1892-93 Elephant and Menagerie Supt.)
(1894 Menagerie Supt.)
(1895-96 Elephant and Menagerie Supt.)
(1897-07 Menagerie Supt.) (Worked an elephant act 1897-01)

Died in Bridgeport Feb. 25. 1924


Anonymous said...

There's a Bates memoir or three in Billboard, concerning elephants he handled. A portrait accompanies one of them.

Arstingstall apparently held himself accountable for the death of Jumbo [despite the primary responsibility of the Grand Trunk railroad] and tried to commit suicide a couple years afterwards. He left for Europe and trained elephants there and managed shipment of such beasts to the US.

Anonymous said...

Arstingstall and Conklin hardly crossed paths, the former about gone from Barnum & London in 1887, just as the latter came over from the Cole outfit that shut down in late 1886.

Bates was the bull man, Conklin the menagerie superintendent, likely with less direct elephant exposure and experience. Eph Thompson trained the Great London herd that went to Barnum & London, not sure who trained the Cole bunch, which was broken up and sold piecemeal.

Conklin must have been a burly, bull of the woods sort of character. The frontispiece to his memoir shows him handling a baby elephant with a neck collar like some people might try and control a dog. At the time he was 63 years old.

Dick Flint said...

Arstingstall, not Eph Thompson, was the man with the Great London herd. Thompson is only associated with the Forepaugh show in the US and begins in the cookhouse department in the early 1880s.
Dick Flint

Anonymous said...

Conklin, pages 112-113, attributes the training of one Cooper & Bailey herd to Stuart Craven. Craven affirmed that he trained the Great London herd of 12 in an 1880 interview. He also declared that he trained seven for Forepaugh in 1876, which varied in number thereafter.