Carl Wittke, Tambo and Bones: A History of the American Minstrel Stage (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1930), pp. 43-44.
Glenroy, Life, pp. 42-43. Handbills for the circus at the Park seem not to be uncommon. There is a mutilated one in the Hertzberg Circus Collection, San Antonio Public Library, San Antonio, Texas, for February 2.
Dan Emmett and Frank Brower were with Nathan A. Howes' circus in NY between 7 November 1842 and 13 February 1843. "Amphitheatre of the Republic."
Pelham and Whitlock were with Welsh, Bartlett in 1839. Can't find them late in 1842, early 1843.
Cockrell, Dale (1997). Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World. Cambridge University Press.
Nathan, Hans (1962). Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
(zoological soc.) Its stated purpose was "to more generally diffuse and promote the knowledge of natural history and gratify rational curiosity." More likely, its purpose was to create a monopoly Annals of the Am. Circus
One-hundred-thirty-five signatures, individuals or corporate, are on the articles, some as investors of show property, most as cash contributors.
Moral opposition to the circus—and to the theatre and horse racing—was an active attitude throughout nineteenth century America, less pronounced in the West than in the East. The states of Vermont and Connecticut had laws banning the appearance of them; several Cities likewise considered them illegal. Clergymen were almost universally opposed to commercial amusements. However, it was unusual for them to take such action as the Providence gentlemen did; most settled for lecturing against amusements from the pulpit. As did persons, cities passed through phases of morality, perhaps as a result of church efforts, but more likely as a part of urban growth. In the period of the expansion of a place, concerns such as morality and public vice were less important than those of growth and profit. Then, when prosperity had stabilized, cultural and moral attitudes came to the front. Instead of a place in which to merely grow rich, a city became a place in which to raise children and protect property. Schools, churches, libraries and athenaeums were projected and under such influences public behavior was scrutinized. Public amusements then became suspect, as did much other activity. If advice was needed, it was often gained from the clergy.
An example of clerical counsel lies in Henry Ward Beechers pamphlet, Lectures to Young Men, first published in 1844. His objections to the circus were:
A waste of time. A waste of money. Incompatible with ordinary pursuits (i.e., the theatre, the circus and the race track make the foundry seem a dull place). They engage one in bad company. Gamblers, circus riders, actors and jockeys are men who live off society without returning any equivalent for their support. Such pursuits demoralize men and corrupt youth.
Vermont Public Act 24, dated November 16, 1836, read:
Circus riding, theatrical exhibitions, juggling, or slight of hand, ventriloquism and magic arts, shall be, and are, declared to be common and public nuisances and offenses against the state.
In the winter of 1838-39 the Bowery Amphitheatre was opened in New York. Part of the ground it occupied had been 37 Bowery, the menagerie showplace of the Zoological Institute. This and 39 Bowery were razed and the new building constructed. The lot was 250 feet deep, running back to Christie Street. The last use of 37 Bowery had been by Purdy, Welch, Macomber & Co. in April, 1837. Construction of the Bowery Amphitheatre began September 1, 1837, and the first use of the building was on November 22, 1838.
In that month Welch and his partners, Jonas Bartlett and John Clayton bought Hall, Nathans, Tufts & Co., a four-month old concern that was apparently struggling. Its proper name was the New York Circus and Arena Co. and the new owners did not change it. On June 7, 1838 John Clayton arrived in New York with two giraffes, survivors of eleven he had captured in southern Africa. They were put on exhibition singly, each travalling with a few antelopes, also captured by Clayton's expedition. Macomber Welch & Co. had sent Clayton out in 1833 to find these animals. Had he returned before 1837, they would have been exhibited by the Zoological Institute, as were the other Macomber, Welch importations.42
One of the giraffes, which had been on the Mississippi during the winter, was attached to the New York Circus and Arena Co. shortly after the change in ownership. With the giraffe for much of its tour of the South was Saunders K.G. Nellis (1817-1865), a native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, who had been born without arms. He first exhibited himself at Peale's Museum in New York and was before the public until his death. He used his feet to perform all the ordinary tasks and did such things as sketch with a pencil as well. With the circus he appeared in a separate tent at an additional charge of twenty-five cents. In like manner, those wishing to see the giraffe and forego the circus could do so for twenty-five cents, admission to both being fifty cents.
One view of this operation is given in an article in a Savannah, Georgia paper:
In the first place, there is a deception practiced, in inducing people to go at seven o'clock, under the belief that the performance in the ring takes place at that time. After the audience are all comfortably seated a man comes forward and proclaims that the performance of the man without arms will now commence and those who choose to pay an additional 25 cents can see him, those who don't may wait here until he is through. Now, all those who have a horror of seeing a deformity in any shape, have a very comfortable time of it, looking into the innocent face of the giraffe while he looks into their simple faces.
The next thing we object to is the amount of labor imposed on those two poor, little boys. About one-half of the performance, it seemed to us, fell to their share. This, no doubt, had its origins in the fact that they are very popular with the audience, but even the demands of the popular will should not be put in the scale with the duties of humanity. On the whole we were well enough pleased.43
We cannot identify these apprentices, as the circus did not advertise a single name during the season. After this Savannah stand they proceeded
for their 1840 tour.
Welch's second enterprise in 1839 was the purchase from George Cadwallader of the Bacon & Derious Circus. Cadwallader, as we indicated, had foreclosed a mortgage in June, 1839. Welch was joined by Jonas Bartlett in this venture as well. Bartlett was a hotel keeper who had signed the 1835 Zoological Institute agreement, but these 1839 circuses were the first upon which his name appeared. The new partners sent H. Hopkins to Richmond to manage the troupe. He promptly took them north; at one stretch they covered three hundred miles in five days, a prodigious move. They began performing in Brooklyn on July 15. The second of the Clayton giraffes was attached to the Grand National Arena Co., as this unit was called, at Woonsocket, Rhode Island. It had been on tour in the East and South when the other one had been in the West. They visited New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in their tour. On their way into New York City at the end of the season they lost the giraffe. While on the road between Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey, the animal fell, broke its neck, and died almost immediately. Later giraffes were carried in cages with open tops to avoid such accidents.
The Welch & Bartlett company spent the winter in a wooden-walled, canvas-topped arena at 509 Broadway. Their roster over that winter was one of the largest ever brought together, some thirty-six artists appearing over the course of four months. A spirited competition with June, Titus, Angevine & Co.'s Broadway Amphitheatre ensued, behooving each firm to present as full a program as possible.
Welch, Bartlett & Co.'s Broadway Circus (billed at times as the Grand Equestrian National Arena) began its 1840 road season immediately upon closing at 509 Broadway. They opened in the Military Garden in Brooklyn on April 6.
H. Hopkins had been replaced as manager by T. Curtis; N. R. Husted was the new agent. We noted him on Frost, Husted & Co. in 1836. George Cadwallader was the equestrian director and John Glenroy, Edwin Derious, Sylvanus Spencer and William O. Dale were among the performers. From the Military Garden they went to Boston for five weeks and then roamed through New York State for the rest of the season. In September, Mons. LeTort was added to the company. Glenroy described him as one of the cleverest riders of that time.
The 1840 road tour ended in Sing Sing, New York and the circus opened at the Bowery Theatre on November 16. It was during this engagement that Levi J. North, who joined on November 23, repeated the somersault on horseback that he had first accomplished in the summer of 1839 while with Batty's circus in England.46 Welch sold out to partner Bartlett in the first week of January; William A. Delavan took his place in the firm.
On July 5, 1841, Welch and Colonel Alvah Mann purchased the New York Circus from Bartlett and Delavan and he once again became the employer of Cadwallader, Glenroy, Derious, North, etc. The sale took place in Richmond, Virginia.
Alvah Mann (d. 1855), a New Yorker, had been a successful hotel keeper prior to travelling with a troupe of American Indians in 1839; one of his units had been with Welch & Bartlett in that year.
There were two new circuses in 1841, both tied to the fortunes of Rufus Welch. One was Bartlett & Delavan's New York Circus; the other, P. H. Nichol's Grecian Arena and Classic Circus. Bartlett & Delavan was the result of Welch selling out to Bartlett his interest in Welch & Bartlett while the show was appearing at the Bowery Theatre in January, 1841. Bartlett continued that engagement until April 1, and then moved the operation to Philadelphia for a month. At the end of that stand he and William A. Delavan formed their partnership in Baltimore at the Front St. Theatre (then called the American Theatre). Levi J. North was their leading performer; Otto Motty, John Glenroy and George Cadwallader were there as well. They began their summer tour in the first week of June and in a month decided that business was so bad that they would sell. Rufus Welch and Alvah Mann purchased the circus on July 5, 1841, at Richmond, Virginia.
During the period between Welch's withdrawal from his partnership with Bartlett and his purchase, with Mann, of the Bartlett & Delavan circus, P. H. Nichols organized his show, a small affair, mostly staffed with the lesser performers from Welch & Bartlett. It's possible of course, that Welch backed Nichols in the endeavor; it's also possible that Nichols was an assumed name, as it appears nowhere else in the literature. Sylvanus Spencer was the performance director, Abraham H. Mead, the agent.
The somersault on a horse was advertised (not reported as an event) in the Republican Herald (Providence, Rhode Island), July 2, 1841. It is quoted in the F. S. Clark manuscript. W. C. Thompson wrote that Timothy Turner was the first to somersault on horseback and says it was done at the Bowery Theatre, but provides no date (On the Road with a Circus (New York, 1903), p88). However, he does say that Levi North; who was in opposition (i.e., playing at the same time in the same city), heard about it and performed the trick himself. We find Timothy Turner at the Bowery Amphitheatre in the winter of 1840-41, but not at the Bowery Theatre. North, who had just returned from England, was at the Bowery Theatre from November 23 to January 11, 1841. He wrote a letter to the New York Clipper published 26 January 1861, in which he said: "It (backward somersault on horseback) was never accomplished until I performed the feat in England in 1839. I was also the first to perform the feat in this country, in 1840 at the Bowery Theatre." Since he outlived Turner, North may have won the distinction of being the first to perform a somersault on a moving horse in America. His having performed it in England would seem to reinforce his claim. One aspect of performed athletics that must be remembered, is that performing a feat and performing it as a regular part of an act are two different things.
CLAYTON & BARTLETT
1844-45 (New Pavilion Circus).
John Clayton and Jonas Bartlett, proprietors. William P. Burrows, treasurer. John G. Sloat, agent.
Roster: No documented roster.
Nov 25-27, 1844 Macon, GA
Dec 10-21 Savannah, GA
Dec 25 - Jan? Charleston, SC
Jan 7-25+ Augusta, GA
Ceased operation Jan, 1845.
the business of Hall, Nathans, Tufts & Co.
Daily Savannah Republican, January 27, 1840.
Day, Charles H., “A Clown’s Log, Extracts from the Diary of the Late Joseph Blackburn, Chronicling Incidents of Travel with Circuses in the United States and England Forty Years Ago, with His Opinions of and Allusions to Professionals of the Period,” New York Clipper, February 14, 21, 28, 1880.
An Annotated Narrative of Joe Blackburn’s
A Clown's Log
(As Compiled by Charles H. Day and Edited by William L. Slout)
Day, “The Eventful Career,” op. cit.; 404. (snuff box reference)
THE SECOND FUNERAL OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE : INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT OF THE EXHUMATION OF HIS REMAINS AT ST. HELENA; AND THEIR CONVEYANCE IN THE BELLE POULE TO FRANCE / illustrated by the artists who accompanied the expedition. - London : Robert Tyas , 1841.
The transfer of Napoleon's remains to Paris in December 1840 and the magnificent ceremonial that accompanied their reinterrment aroused great interest in England as this book, with wood and steel engravings by the leading London workshop of Vizetelly, bears clear witness.
In 1847 there is a listing of "J. & E. Bartlett, hotel." He was in partnership with his brother Elmer.