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Circus Fever

North Salem's Wild Past



The Collection of Grace Zimmerman

›› If you think June Road in North Salem took its name from the month that the show-tune proclaims “is bustin’ out all over,” guess again. It is a tribute to a local family that played a key role in the history of the Big Top in 19th- century America. In fact, the colonnaded Greek Revival mansion (today restored and for sale) at 85 June Road was built in the 1840s for John F. June, one of North Salem’s “circus kings.” Not far, on Rte 116, Titicus Road, toward Ridgefield, you will find the large, English country house with imposing iron gates that had belonged to June’s partner, Lewis B. Titus. (The stone retaining wall facing the street is said to have been built with help from elephants.) In the local cemetery, 16 gravestones bear witness to lives tied to the circus.

How come North Salem? In 1809 Hackaliah Bailey of neighboring Somers sold a half share in a female elephant, Old Bet (which he had bought from a ship’s captain) to North Salem entrepreneur Isaac Purdy for $5,000. It was a sound investment, equal to buying a $100,000 slice of Dreamworks today, for before radio and television, people paid good money for the thrill of gawking at exotic live animals on exhibit. Old Bet was walked from town to town only at night so no one would get a free peek.

“Circus fever” quickly spread in the North Salem community, spawning start-up menageries in which locals were eager to invest. Lions, tigers, zebras, camels, monkeys were procured and during the summer months, the shows began to go on the road. In winter, the animals were housed by North Salem farmers, in barns built tall to accommodate elephants, dromedaries and such. (Those barns are all gone, except vestiges of one at the Purdy Homestead.)  In the 1990s, a section of what has become known as the Elephant Walk, a 20-foot-wide path of boulders edged by a four-foot rock wall, believed to have been built for the behemoths’ path to pasture, was uncovered and restored on a local horse property. Further, Town Supervisor Warren Lucas reports: “My great-grandmother Annette Bloomer would tell my Aunt Beryl about the elephants and other circus animals that wintered in North Salem being walked past her house to bathe in Peach Lake.”

Of all the dozens of circus companies that operated in the first half of the 19th century, none was more successful than June, Titus, Angevine & Co. June and Titus had worked as young men in the Crane Brothers’ circus out of North Salem. Sometime in 1830 they got together with another North Salemite, Caleb Angevine, and formed what was to be called The Syndicate, an organization that for the next 50 years had its finger in every aspect of circus business. Not only did it continue to draw capital from prosperous North Salem dairy farmers, but it also recruited and trained local men to work in their businesses. The Syndicate initiated wildly popular equestrian, acrobatic, and juggler performances at their Bowery Theater in New York, and, realizing that keeping their animals idle in winter was a big waste, they stabled them and put them on show next to the theater. They sent scouts across Africa to bring back more animals, and their circus was the first traveling show to feature a hippopotamus, a giraffe, and two elephants at once. The circus business was a very territorial one and when the Syndicate ran up against competition in the Big City, it proclaimed: “We shall put our foot down flat and play New York. So watch out!” Play they did, there and everywhere, and ever after this North Salem circus clan was known in the business as The Flatfoots.

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January 2019

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy based on his famous "I Have a Dream" speech by creating a mobile that expresses your own dreams—for yourselves and your community. Each...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Drop in for help with any of your technology devices.  No appointment necessary.  First come first served.   PC, Google, Microsoft savvy volunteer with help you with troubleshooting,...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Come be a paleontologist for the day and create a dinosaur of your own imagination out of cardboard and tissue paper. Materials will be provided.  Ages 4 to 11 (under 5 with caregiver)Sponsored...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Sponsor: Friends of the Library
Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00 PM Create a cool yarn hat in a single evening! All materials will be provided. This event is free and no registration is required. Ages 12 and up. Hosted by North...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

We invite families to drop-in and enjoy interactive pop-up activity stations, gallery games, and art projects around the KMA.  Get inspired by Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Bring the baby and enjoy a lively conversation inspired by the art on view. Enjoy light snacks while socializing with newly-made friends. Crying babies welcome and activities provided for older...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Saturday, January 26th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Ages 4+ Attend for groovy crafts, snacks, games, and more in celebration of the Pete the Cat book series. This event is free and no registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
Ossining, NY  10562
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
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