Edith Ringling

From the list of elephant persons Family: Conway

Edith Ringling
Profession circus owner
Personal details
Dead 1953 in United States

Spouse(s) 1890 - 1926 Charles Ringling

Country United States

Work locations
Title owner 1926-1953
Location at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in United States

Biography details

Edith F. Conway , circus owner in United States

dead 1953 in United States .

When, as a teenager, she met Charles Ringling in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Edith Conway had never been to a circus.

By the time she died in 1953, she had become such a fixture at the big top that the press often called her the "Queen" or "Mother" of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

With her marriage to Charles in 1890, Edith Ringling became part of the circus. She took tickets when the circus had three elephants and the show was small enough to be performed in a neighborhood. She traveled with the show nearly every year until 1950, except for a period after Charles' death in 1926. By the time a Christian Science Monitor reporter interviewed her in 1932, she was "running the show" for a week in John Ringling North's absence; the show then included 40 elephants, 30 tents, 1,600 people and required 100 railroad cars to move it.

Sarasota History Alive!

Charles Ringling died on December 3, 1926, one day after his 63rd birthday. His wife, Edith, participated in the business and was a member of the board of directors of the circus. Edith Ringling continued in that capacity after the death of Charles, assuming many additional duties that had been her husband's and thereafter, being hailed affectionately as "Mrs. Charlie" by those who relied upon her to continue his traditional roles.

Their retreat was completed in 1926, the year he died.
The winter retreat of Edith and Charles Ringling was built on Sarasota Bay in the Shell Beach subdivision platted in 1896 by Mary Louise and Charles N. Thompson. The Thompsons, associated with another circus, were instrumental in interesting members of the Ringling family about living in Sarasota.

Included on the property was another gracious bay front home for their daughter, Hester, and her children. As well as being intended for large social gatherings and performances, the compound was designed to be completely self-sufficient, including staff quarters, farming, and livestock. The bay front homes are connected by a covered walkway that creates a transition between the two architectural styles. Within months of the completion of the construction, Charles died, but Edith Ringling and their daughter, Hester Ringling, continued to reside on the estate for many decades.

The structures on what came to be known internationally as the Edith Ringling residence, and the Hester Ringling Lancaster Sanford residence are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of a historic district that includes the retreat of Ellen and Ralph Caples, the retreat of Mable and John Ringling, and the John Ringling and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, as well. The homes of Edith and Hester often were featured in magazines and periodicals because of their architecture, landscaping, and interior design. The civic, musical, theatrical, and social activities of the women were of interest to readers also.


Total: 2 children

  1. Born: ?. Dead: † ? Hester Ringling
  2. Born: 1897-08-16. Dead: † 1950-01-03 Robert Ringling

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2023). owner Edith F. Conway in United States. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 9 December 2023 at https://www.elephant.se/person.php?id=496. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

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Categories owner | circus | Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus | Conway family | Dead 1953 | People from United States

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