James A. Bailey

From the list of elephant persons Family: McGinnis

James A. Bailey
James  McGinnis

Personal details

Spouse(s) Ruth McCaddon

Country United States

Title owner 1897-1902
Location at Barnum and Baileys circus European tour in United States

Title owner 1896-1906
Location at Forepaugh-Sells Show in United States

Title director 1894
Location at Buffalo Bills Wild West Show in United States

Title owner 1888-1906
Location at Barnum & Bailey Circus in United States

Title owner 1881-1885
Location at Barnum and London Circus in United States

Title owner 1860-1881
Location at Cooper and Bailey Circus in United States

Biography details

James Anthony McGinnis , circus director in United States

Born 1847-07-04 dead 1906 .

James Anthony McGinnis was born July 4, 1847[2] to Edward and Hannora McGinnis in Detroit, Michigan. Edward McGinnis died in October, 1849 of cholera and in 1855, James was orphaned when his mother died. James then went to live with his older sister, Catherine Gordon.

Life with Catherine was difficult as she tended to be overbearing and harsh. Sometime between 1859 and 1860, James ran away from Catherine's home and found a job and a place to stay on a farm about 10 miles outside the city of Pontiac, Michigan. Finding life on the farm unrewarding, 13-year old James wandered into Pontiac where he found work at the Hodges House Hotel.[2]

After working at the hotel for a time, he was discovered by Colonel Frederic Harrison Bailey, a nephew of circus pioneer Hachaliah Bailey, and an advance man for John Robinson and Bill Lake's traveling circus. F.H. Bailey gave McGinnis a job as his assistant, and the two traveled together for many years. McGinnis eventually adopted F.H. Bailey's surname to become James A. Bailey.

James A. Bailey worked as an advance man for the Lake Circus. While a member of that show he became acquainted with the McCaddon family in Beverly. When the McCaddon family moved to Zanesville in Ohio, the father, John, became the owner of the Stacy House, a hotel across the street from the courthouse.

One winter, during the circus’s layoff period, James worked as a clerk at the Stacy House. It was at this time that he became interested in Miss Ruth Louisa McCaddon, the daughter of his employer. In December 1868 (or married in 1870) he married Miss Ruth McCaddon in Zanesville.

The very next year in Granby, Missouri, Bill Lake was shot and killed. With her husband dead, Agnes Lake became the first woman in the United States to own a circus[2] (Agnes Lake would later marry famous gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok, who worked for a short time with Buffalo Bill Cody, whose Wild West Show James A. Bailey would one day manage).

Bailey later associated with James E. Cooper, and by the time he was 22, he was manager of the Cooper and Bailey circus. Baileys circus was soon chief competitor of P. T. Barnum.

1876-1878: On tour in Australia. The show taken on board numbered sixty-five people, fifteen horses, six elephants, one giraffe, one hippopotamus and nine cages of animals.

1879: Cooper and Bailey owned 10 elephants, incuding a pregnant elephant female. (Hoage, Deiss, From Menagerie to Zoological Park in the Nineteenth Century, page 103)

Bailey was the first to display an electric light in 1879, a year before Thomas Edison patented it. He also exhibited "Little Columbia," the first baby elephant ever born in an American circus.

Barnum wanted to buy the elephant, but Bailey turned him down. Instead of continuing as competitors, each man recognized the showmanship of the other, and decided to combine their shows in 1881. The combined show enjoyed great success with acts such as the worlds largest elephant, Jumbo in 1882.

1881: P. T. Barnum merged with Cooper and Bailey Circus(owned by James A. Bailey and James L. Hutchinson), "P.T. Barnums Greatest Show On Earth, And The Great London Circus, Sangers Royal British Menagerie and The Grand International Allied Shows United", soon shortened to "Barnum & London Circus".
1885: P. T. Barnum and James A. Bailey split up again in 1885, but came back together in
1888: with the "Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth", later "Barnum & Bailey Circus", which toured around the world. The shows primary attraction was Jumbo, an African elephant he purchased in 1882 from the London Zoo.
1889: Barnum and Bailey bought the Carl Hagenbeck Circus in Germany from Carl Hagenbeck. When Barnums came to Londons Olympia in 1889 they travelled with 450 performers, 300 horses, 21 elephants, 32 cages and 35 parade and baggage wagons.
1891: P. T. Barnum died on April 7, 1891.
1891: Bailey purchased the circus from Barnums widow. He ran many successful tours through the eastern United States and also Canada.

1897: Bailey took his circus to Europe where, on December 27, 1897, he began a tour across the continent that lasted through 1902.

Baileys European tour gave the Ringling brothers an opportunity to move their show from the Midwest through the eastern seaboard. Faced with the new competition, Bailey took his show west of the Rockies for the first time in 1905.

1906: James A. Bailey died.

1907: Barnum & Bailey Circus circus was eventually sold to Ringling Brothers on July 8, 1907 for a price of US$400,000.

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2024). director James Anthony McGinnis in United States. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 21 February 2024 at https://www.elephant.se/person.php?id=523. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

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Categories director | circus | Forepaugh-Sells Show | McGinnis family | Born 1847 | Dead 1906 | People from United States

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