Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in United States

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus

Owner1906-1913: Ben Wallace
1913-1918: Ed Ballard
1918-1919: Jeremiah Mugivan and Bert Bowers
1919-1919: Mugivan, Bowers and Ballard
1919-1929: American Circus Company
1929: John Ringling
Closed down1938
PlacePeru, Indiana
CountryUnited States

Head keepers
of elephants
?:Rueben Castang
1903-1906: P.D. Brown
1916: Joe Metcalf
Percy Phillips
1922: Bert Noyes, Superintendent.
Relevant literature


Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, in Peru, Indiana, United States, was founded in 1907. Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus closed down in 1938 in Peru, Indiana, .

Comments / pictures

Records about from Bob Cline
1906: In the fall of 1906 after the Carl Hagenbeck show folded in Mexico, Ben Wallace, the owner of the Great Wallace circus, bought the 15 elephants from Carl Hagenbeck. They were Moms, Topsy, Trilby, Jughead Nellie, Betty, Pinto, Nancy, Zeffa, Bedelia, Baby. These were all Female Asians. Monte, Satan and Josky were all Male Asians. Jumb and Kongo were Female Africans. Mr. Wallace resold, Monte, Topsy, and Moms to Van Amburgh Circus (Mugivan & Bowers) shortly thereafter with the other twelve joining the four (Robbins Queen, Tess, Mama, and Ding, all Asian females) he still had and becoming the herd of the new Hagenbeck-Wallace title.
Bob Cline


1907: The circus now carried 16 elephants (1. Trilby, 2. Jughead Nellie, 3. Betty, 4. Pinto, 5. Nancy, 6. Zeffa, 7. Bedelia, 8. Baby, 9. Satan 10. Josky, 11. Jumb 12. Kongo. 13. Robbins Queen, 14. Tess, 15. Mama, and 16. Ding) and became known as the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus at that time, although Carl Hagenbeck protested. Hagenbeck sued Ben Wallace to prohibit the use of his name but lost in court.

Records about from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at http://www.bucklesw.blogspot.com/

Ben Wallace never had more than 5 or 6 elephants with his Great Wallace Show but with the addition of the Carl Hagenbeck elephants in 1907, the herd rose to 16 but was soon streamlined down to around a dozen. Included from the Hagenbeck Show were Reuben Castang listed as Menagerie Supt. and Percy Phillips in charge of the elephants and seen in the picture above.


In reviewing the H-W show of 1907, the Billboard describes the fourth display as a öA herd of elephants, introduced by Mr. Reuben Castang [ring 1], and a second herd [ring 3] under the direction of Mr. Percy Phillips, worked to perfection, and the Bengal tiger riding an Asiatic elephant, as introduced by Mr. Charles Judge [ring 2], made people sit up and marvel.ö For the seventh display, the review mentions that in the steel arena öAttention was centered upon the equestrian feats of an African lion and tiger, presented by Charles Judge and Reuben Castang. Dick Flint, Buckles Blog

Records about from Bob Cline
1912: 12 elephants: 1. Baby, 2.Bedelia, 3. Josky, 4. Jughead Nellie, 5. Jumb, 6. Kongo, 7. Nancy, 8. Pinto, 9. Satan, 10. Tess, 11. Trilby and 12. Zeffa.

1913: the circus lost 8 elephants: Baby, 2.Bedelia, 3. Josky, 4. Jughead Nellie, 5. Jumb, 6. Kongo, 7. Nancy, 8. Pinto, 9. Satan, 10. Tess, 11. Trilby and 12. Zeffa., as well as 21 lions and tigers and 8 performing horses in the Wabash River flood.
Records about from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at http://www.bucklesw.blogspot.com/
The April floods of 1913 swept thru Indiana and covered the Peru Quarters. Some reports indicate that all elephants were lost except three. Jumb's carcass was found down the lane by the bridge. Nancy and Trilby were discovered by the cook house door.William Buckles Woodcock

1913: Ben Wallace sells Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus

Records about from Bob Cline
4 elephants made the tour: the three that survived the flood; Jughead Nellie, Pinto, Tess, and Louis, a bull that was purchased from William P. Hall after the flood.
On July 1, 1913, Ben Wallace sold the entire show to a collection of individuals headed up by Ed Ballard. Others were John O. Talbot, Charles E. Cory, Charles Hageman, & J.M. Warren. The sale did not include the Peru property.

1921: Ben Wallace died in March and in October, the American Circus Corporation purchased the winter quarters.
1918: One of the worst circus train wrecks in U.S. history occurred just before 4:00 AM on June 22, 1918, when a locomotive engineer fell asleep and ran his empty troop train into the rear of the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus train near Hammond, Indiana. A fire broke out from the kerosene lamps, which were used for lighting in the sleeper cars of the circus train. The fire quickly spread through the wood-constructed cars. As a result of the collision and subsequent fire, 86 persons died and another 127 were injured. Many victims were burned beyond recognition. Most are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois in a section set aside as Showmens Rest.

In the spirit of "the show must go on," several competing circuses, including Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, lent equipment and performers to Hagenbeck-Wallace so that only two performances were canceled as a result of the tragedy, the one in Hammond and the next stop in Monroe, Wisconsin. After the tragedy, circus entrepreneurs Jeremiah Mugivan and Bert Bowers acquired Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, adding it to a long list of circuses they owned, including Sells-Floto Circus and John Robinson Shows. Mugivan was the chief operations man. A year later, Mugivan and Bowers asked Ballard to join them and the trio formed the American Circus Company.

Records about from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at http://www.bucklesw.blogspot.com/

1922: 12 elephants: 1. Tess, 2. Jughead Nellie, 3. Pinto, 4. Louis, 5. Little Diamond, 6. Josky, 7. Jennie, 8. Wallace Trilby, 9. Moms, 10. Topsy, 11. Cross Country Babe, 12. Wallace Ewa,

Hagenbeck-Wallace sold to John Ringling

The successor company of the American Circus Company was sold by Jeremiah Mugivan, Bert Bowers and Ed Ballard to John Ringling of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey in 1929 for $2 million, along with the Al G. Barnes Amusement Co., Sells-Floto Circus Co., John Robinson Shows, and Sparks Circus Co. With that acquisition, Ringling controlled virtually every travelling circus in America.
1932: Due to the Great Depression two of the shows had already been taken off the road. The John Robinson elephants were divided between Hagenbeck-Wallace and Sells-Floto which was easily accomplished since all three herds shared the same barn in Peru.

Records about from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at http://www.bucklesw.blogspot.com/

When John Ringling purchased the American Circus Corporation in 1929 the five circuses included 57 elephants ranging from 13 with Hagenbeck-Wallace to 9 with Sparks. By 1932 however, due to the Great Depression two of the shows had already been taken off the road. The John Robinson elephants were divided between Hagenbeck-Wallace and Sells-Floto which was easily accomplished since all three herds shared the same barn in Peru. Above we see Cheerful Gardner's 1931-32 twenty elephant herd with H-W and directly behind the second man from right are two of the males "Tommy" (one tusk) and "Prince". Absorbing the Sparks elephants into the Ringling-Barnum herd was also a "no brainer" since the Sparks Show shared the Sarasota Quarters and all they had to do was change the title on the bull car. This brought the RBBB herd up to 41 despite the fact that the 1933 "50th Anniversary" tour boldly claimed 50 elephants.

Hagenbeck-Wallace in Birmingham. Alabama October 17, 1934. The circus parade that day took it from the Southern Railroad yards East on Third Avenue to 17th St., North on 17th St. to Fifth Avenue, East on Fifth Avenue to 20th St. (where this photograph was taken), South on 20th St. to 2nd Ave., West on 2nd Ave. to 19th St., North on 19th St., to 3rd Avenue, and then Third Avenue to the fairgrounds.
Source: Chris Berry , USA

1935: The Great Depression and John Ringlings ill health caused the Ringling empire to falter. In 1935, the circus split from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and became the Hagenbeck-Wallace and Forepaugh-Sells Bros. Circus.

1938: The circus finally ceased operations in 1938.

1944: The 500 acre farm was bought by Valley Farms, Inc. from the Ringling Bros. Circus.

The building in Peru, Indiana that formerly housed the winter home of Hagenbeck-Wallace now serves as the home of the Circus Hall of Fame.

Reuben Castang listed as Menagerie Supt

1903-1906: P.D. Brown elephant boss

References for records about Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2021). Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at https://www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=574. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

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This document was updated: 2021-08-14 11:37:25

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