The images on this page came from
the collection of Miss Adonna Houston, the daughter of J. Sam
Mr. Houston was originally
involved with the Gentry Dog and Pony Show. He then was involved
with Otto Floto around 1905 and helped in the merger of the Sells
Flotos Circus. He was close friends of the Bonfils family of the
Denver Post . He eventually became known for his independent show
which traveled the US and Mexico. He owned Balto the Dog who Saved
Nome, Cheetah, the Pancho Villa death car and many other exotic
Miss Houston worked at a children's
park in Oakland CA that my husband worked at as a child.
(Fairyland) She was the Old Woman in the Shoe but when Count Popo
De Bathe (resident clown) went on UNICEF trips, she filled in for
him as Lolo the clown.
I met them both in 1981 but Popo
passed away that year. We stayed in touch with Lolo as we called
her and helped her out when we could. Her father passed away in
1957 but she kept many of the things he had. Some ended up at
Bridgeport in the Barnum Museum. Popo had a display there for
many years along with a wax figure. A two headed calf and an emu
are still there. She removed Popo's things and some ended up here
or in Baraboo. He started out with Mr. Morris's Monks but was in
several circuses including Christy Bros. and the Madrid circus (I
think). She had known Popo thru her father.
Sam Houston worked in the silent
picture industry, circus and as an independent showman.
Adonna was as much a
partner as a daughter. She showed with him from 1926, when she
ran away from a grandmother until his death in 1957. She was a
stand in for Dorothy Lamour at one time, worked on Rose Parade
floats, worked at Fairyland in Oakland, played the Palace as a
They had several railroad cars that
they used and they took them to Mexico and back. Sam provided the
Hilton Sisters with music lessons and helped them out after they
ran away from their manager.
There is a great deal more about Sam
and Adonna but we never were able to get her to write it down or
put it on tape. She never thought anyone would be interested.
We'd like to thank Lynne Bell for
sharing these images with Sideshow World. All photographs are the
property of Lynne Bell and are posted here with her permission.
Sam Houston San
Post Script: Mr. Houston was born
Feb. 14, 1869 in Anderson, IN and died Mar 1, 1957 in Los Angeles.
Joseph H. Huston aka Sam J. Houston - His real last
name was Huston! Sam, ever the showman, took the Houston spelling
because of the historical recognition.
His parent's owned the Huston Hotel
in Winchester, WI. His father was in the Civil War and his mother
died in a run away buggy accident.