In Pencil at bottom - Womelsdorf May 24 & 25


Coming -- SAMUEL DOCK'S 10c SHOW 10c. A moral and instructive exhibition. A feature seldom equaled! Sadie Docks Challenge Dog Circus... The Prince of the high tight wire, Mr. WESLEY McCLEARY, in daring and difficult feats upon a thread like wire in mid-air. ... The only and original SAM DOCK. In feats of balancing on the high swinging trapeze. ...SADIE DOCK. The accomplished high rope artist, can be seen at each performance... An hour and a half of amusement for 10 cents...

"Sam Dock cut a wide swath across circus history. He was a trapeze performer and animal trainer and presenter that made the transition to circus manager and proprietor. He was involved with overland, railroad, river and motorized shows. He was affiliated with smaller shows for most of his career, but spent some time with both the leading Forepaugh and Barnum & Bailey outfits. His career touched on many shows and showmen... Slout's book "Olympians of the Sawdust Circle" states that his last show toured in 1942, but that he 'continued on with working dogs, ponies and monkeys through 1951.' Sam Dock died on July 3, 1953. That made him 89 years old, of which he'd spent at least 68 years in the circus or show business.
"The 'Billboard' magazine solicited biographical information from circus men in the early 1930s. A synopsis of the data submitted was later printed in cameo biographies in that weekly trade journal about 1931. The following information is quoted verbatim from the 'Billboard' magazine:
'Mr. Dock, owner of Sam Dock's Circus, was born in Womelsdorf, Pa., December 24, 1863, making him 68 years of age. His home is in Petersburg, Va. He has been engaged in the circus field for 49 years, entering it in May 1883. His first connection was with [Leigh Hill French's] Circus French & Co. Was with Howe, Pullman & Co. 1884; [W. H. Harris] Nickel Plate 1885; [Adam] Forepaugh's, 1886; [Circo] Pubillones, [Mexico] winter of 1886-87; Dock & Jordan 1887; Orrin Barbers (sic) [Orrin Bros., Mexico] 1888; McFadden's 1889; in 1890 had [one-] third interest in Welsh Bros., also 1891-1892; with Flying Jordans [trapeze act] Barnum & Bailey Circus, [Madison Square] Garden season 1892; half interest with [Al F.] Wheeler & Company in 1893; later with Rentz & Co. [likely a Miles Orton or Sam MacFlinn operation], Frank A. Robbins, McDonald Bros. and E. G. Smith. He does not belong to any fraternal organizations. Animals are his hobby. His parents are dead. His wife is Sadie [Sarah?] Dock, who is no longer active in amusement business. They have a daughter, Mrs. Claire Brison, 35 years old.
"Col. C. G. Sturtevant, an early circus historian, compiled a listing of proprietors in the 1930s. Under Dock's name he offered these entries, items in brackets mine or from Sturtevant's list of abbreviations. It's clear that Mr. Dock either did not recall all of his affiliations, or chose not to mention them. There may also have been obligations for which he was contracted and announced, but did not fulfill, or did not complete an entire season, etc.

      '(Mgr)[manager] WB [Welsh Bros.] 1890; (AT) [animal trainer] NP [Harris Nickel Plate] 1885; [A. A.] Beckett '86; D [Dock] & Jordan (Pr) 1887; (Pr) [Proprietor] Dock 1894 to 1903; (AT) Sun [Bros.] 1908; [Pr] Dock 1916-1919 to 1923; (Pr) Keystone '25 to '27 (Mgr) Brison Bros. '28-'30; (Pr) Sam Dock '31 to ''33; Silver Bros. '34 still going strong.'" (Circus History)

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