Many circus troops came to Bartlesville, and the Mound was one of the most popular locations in the early days through the 1940’s. Aside from the Mound, the circus companies also set up in various locations in downtown Bartlesville from time to time. Times change, and in the 40s the most popular place to set up a circus was located at the Phillips Petroleum lot across Highway 123 from the Smelters compound, still within sight of the Mound.
DAILEY BROS. AMUSEMENT SHOW/CIRCUS
The summer of 1928 brought the Dailey Bros. Amusement Show with rides and concessions, along with their circus. The newspaper ad printed the address as ‘on the Mound Show lot.’ Their big attraction was Satan, the largest python ever brought to America!
THE LONE RANGER RIDES THE MOUND
Lee Powell, original star of the talking screen epic, The Lone Ranger, came to town on Monday, August 28, 1939. Surrounded by his own company of rangers, cowboys and cowgirls, scores of spirited horses and a group of American Indians, he took Bartlesville by storm. I would guess that between shows they may have run the horses up the Mound for exercise and practice rounds. Can you imagine how thrilled the kids were when the Lone Ranger galloped into the tent riding high in his silver-plated saddle and silver studded bridle, astride his wonder horse!
An extra added feature attraction was Baron Richard Nowak, the World’s Smallest Man. Nowak, 18 years old at the time, stood 23″ tall and only weighed 17 pounds.
Profitt’s Bakery, located in Bartlesville, was the circus sponsor. ‘Eat Profitt’s Bread and be strong like The Lone Ranger’ was their campaign ad.
The 1920s through 1940s was good for the Profitt Bakery, located at 121 Comanche. Going back in the history of this bakery, it was the J.R. Fitts Bakery when J.E. Metcalf and W.J. Ross purchased it on June 5, 1922. Shortly thereafter, the Proffit Brothers bought the Ross Bakery on September 17, 1922, and that was when the name was changed to Profitt Brothers Bakery. Almost twenty years later, C.R. Murray purchased the bakery in September, 1941. The original staff stayed with Murray, and included J.E. Cunningham, C.E. Profitt, and O.E. Clayton. The bakers were Mae Cunningham, S.L. Huff, Marceline Carr, and John Ponder. The drivers were A.M. ‘Art’ Christy and E.S. Ed Blair. The new 1941 Profitt Bakery slogan was ‘Profitt’s is Better Bread….Had You Noticed?’
COL. ZACK T. MILLER’S 101 RANCH WILD WEST SHOW
But probably the most famous circus that performed at the Mound was Col. Zack T. Miller’s 101 Ranch Wild West Show. Col. Miller brought the Spirit of the Old West to the Mound on Tuesday, August 13, 1946. Just a few of the popular shows was the Indian Massacre on a stage coach, and an outlaw attack on an emigrant train. They also had cowboy and cowgirl Chariot Races with trick riding. Maurice Marmalajo, wire walker king, held Bartians spellbound! There were also hundreds of animals, it was a sight to behold! Many books have been written about Miller’s 101 Ranch shows.
HOW THE CIRCUS IS SET UP
The best way to understand how the circus came to town and was set up is described on the utube video that we have included. The circus always came to town on a train, and there would be many train cars filled with circus people with everything they needed to set it up. The circus was always a welcome sight to the grocers and other merchants in town because they would buy large quantities of groceries and supplies for their great shows. There was almost always a circus parade, which consisted of the animals being transported to the circus arena. Schools would dismiss their students for the parades, and my parents have told me in detail about the excitement of watching the elephants and the other animals being herded to the Mound or other circus locations. The dangerous animals, lions and bears, would be put in cages and placed on trucks to be driven in the parade. It was probably more dangerous than should have been allowed, however, we don’t have any stories of animals getting loose and mauling anybody. There was one incident when a python snake disappeared for several hours but was eventually found in downtown Bartlesville, again, without any attacks or problems.