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Blair County Newspaper Articles


Walter L. Main Circus Train Wreck, June 1893 - Part 2


One More Out of the Hospital.


Of the five injured men remaining at the Altoona hospital last evening, being treated for injuries received at the recent circus train wreck, one was discharged this morning. This was William Evans one of the most seriously injured showmen, who had recovered sufficiently to leave for his home at Williamstown, Dauphin county, with his father who had come to Altoona on hearing the news of his misfortune.


The other four patients, O'Bannon, Jones, Haney and Champaign, are all doing well, though none will be able to leave the hospital for a day or two.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Friday, June 2, page 4


Combat With a Panther.


The following dispatch sent from Shamokin tells of an encounter between Frank Buck, a mail carrier, and a panther, supposed to be the one that escaped from the Main circus wreck near Tyrone Tuesday morning:


Buck has the contract for delivering the Patterson mail at Mt. Carmel, no mail car reaching the former place. The route lies through a wild, mountainous country. Shortly after daybreak Wednesday morning, Buck was going past a sharp rise in the road when a huge panther confronted him in the highway. The mail carrier was in a wagon, but knowing the fleetness of the ferocious beast before him, did not attempt to make it a contest between the speed of his horse and the great mountain cat. He stopped, drew a revolver from his pocket and awaited the next movement of his agile foe in the roadway. At that moment two dogs, evidently in pursuit of the panther, approached. The wild best crept toward Buck. When he raised his revolver, the dogs began to bark, and the panther's attention was diverted. The young man fired three times, none of the bullets taking effect.


The dogs, after reaching the mail carrier, stopped. Then the panther rushed forward and when five feet away he prepared to leap. Buck fired again, the bullet lodging in the beast's breast. Again the revolver cracked, and this time the ball pierced the panther's left eye. With a cry of rage and pain the furious monster sprang into the wagon. Buck and the dogs attacked it, the carrier using the butt end of his weapon with good effect.


The struggle was so close and fierce that the mail carrier knew his danger was very great. His pistol was empty. The repeated blows upon the panther's bleeding head made it turn, and leaping from the wagon, it slunk away through the bushes. The dogs were afraid to follow it, and Buck, glad to be free, drove rapidly to Patterson and told of his encounter. Half a dozen armed men at once started for the scene of the conflict. They scoured the woods for a mile, but found no panther.


Strange as it seems many think the panther, after the circus train wreck at Tyrone, jumped into an open box car standing near. A freight train from that place reached Shamokin early Wednesday morning and the beast is supposed to have ridden all the way. Being used to travelling in cars it would be quite natural for it to seek such shelter. It is about 100 miles from Tyrone to the place where Buck had his thrilling combat.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Friday, June 2, 1893, page 4



J. D. Harrison, correspondent of the Main circus, received an anxious inquiry this morning from Miss Ida Bayles, of Homestead, about her brother, William Bayles, who had been with the show early in the season. She feared he had been among the killed. Mr. Harrison replied to the inquiry with the assurance that Bayles had not been among the victims.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4


Three Wounded Left in Hospital.


Willis O'Bannon, one of the showmen injured in the circus train wreck of Tuesday, had so far recovered from the effects of his wounds that he was discharged from the Altoona hospital this morning. He joined the show here again. The other three victims remaining at the hospital, Jones, Haney and Champaign, are still improving steadily.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4


Persons who picked up several of the whistles belonging to Main's circus calliope after the wreck last Tuesday, will confer a favor on the proprietor by returning same to this office.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4


Walter L. Main's Circus Already in Process of Reorganization - Will Give the First Exhibition in Tyrone Next Thursday, To Take the Road at Once.


Walter L. Main and his corps of associated are hard at work today reorganizing his circus which met with such as severe catastrophe last Tuesday. The circus will give their first performances in Tyrone next Thursday, afternoon and evening, at only 25 cents admission. The price has heretofore been 50 cents, but Mr. Main has determined upon a reduction for this town. After the performances here next Thursday the show will leave at once to take the road for the season. Mr. Aikens, the advance railroad contractor, has arrived here from Boston, and is busily engaged in mapping out the route. The advance car at Geneva, New York, will be brought here to start out from this point to bill the show.


Mr. Main and his veterinary surgeon, Mr. Evans, started this morning to purchase new stock. The show will be equipped with new cars, wagons and cages, and Mr. Main's New York agents are seeing to the purchase of animals to take the place of those lost. In fact the circus will be almost completely recovered from the disaster which nearly wiped it out of existence.


The regular performances will be given, with all three rings, two stages and the hippodrome. It goes without saying that Walter L. Main and his estimable company will be greeted by immense audiences at their initial appearance here.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4


Writing Friends at Home.


Among the members of Main's circus are the three famous LaRue Brothers, William, John and Eddie, one of the best acrobatic teams in the county. Their father, William LaRue, a skillful bareback performer of years ago, now aged 61 years, and retired from the profession since 1887, resides in Philadelphia. On learning of the circus train wreck here last Tuesday the elder LaRue was naturally much concerned for the safety of his sons and he repaired at once to the Item office in search of news. While there his wife entered with a letter from their son William, written on the day of the wreck and containing a graphic account of the occurrence. The Item editor requested leave to publish the letter which is given below. Mr. LaRue is till in Tyrone.


MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER - Well, here we are, high and dry; nothing left of the show but a few horses and they are in bad condition.


It was a terrible sight to behold lions, tigers, hyenas, wolves and all animals running wild, cars on top of each other, six men killed - one of them the Treasurer of the show. I helped to get him out from underneath the cars. He lived until the wagon was lifted and then died. One brakeman could hardly be recognized and four others had backs broken and were all smashed up. Thirty horses, groaning with legs cut off and legs broken, had to be shot. We lost two sacred oxen and not one wagon is left. We were going down a big mountain and the engineer of our train lost control, as the train was very heavy. We were going at the rate of one hundred miles an hour when the tender of the locomotive jumped the track and all the cars but the three sleeping cars were completely demolished.


I jumped the train before they got it stopped and fell down a small embankment. When I got up there stood a tiger just in front of me, and on the other side were the three lions, all loose. I did not linger long out of the car. Had the sleepers gone twenty feet further, we would all have been killed. It was the worst sight I ever beheld in my life. And how the poor dumb brutes did suffer. One elephant had its leg broken, horses were ground up, people cried like children, and the poor working men were cut and mangled. Blood was tracked for three miles all along the tracks and road where horses had walked, bleeding.


Everything is in charge of the railroad company. I just heard there are three more dead, which makes nine in all, and twenty hurt.


Don't be afraid, we are all safe and did not get hurt, but it was only a miracle that any one of use was left.


Don't worry as we are all right. Trunks are in good condition. Love to all. [Signed] Your son, "WILL," Tyrone, Penn.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4


The Testimony All Taken.


Another immense crowd filled the Sheridan Troop armory last evening when the adjourned session of the coroner's inquest inquiring into the cause of last Tuesday's wreck was held.


John Grazier, second brakeman of the ill-fated train took the stand and his testimony corroborated that of his fellow trainmen in every particular. Conductor William Snyder was recalled and denied that he had previously stated that the air brake connection included only the first seven cars of the train; he stated that seven of the first fourteen cars, mixed through the train, were held by air. Engineer Cresswell was again called, and in answer to questions, denied that he had reversed his engine before the wreck or that he had told young Manderville that he had looked for the train to "go on the other curve."


Fireman Miess being recalled, also denied that the engineer had reversed his engine. At this point Mr. Stevens, attorney for Mr. Main, claimed that the proceedings were irregular, and held a brief but lively altercation with Foreman Miller of the jury. The taking of testimony ended here and the coroner's jury adjourned until Monday evening.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4


Dismounted in a Hurry.


Two of the sleeping cars belonging to Main's circus train are stationed on one of the sidetracks at the depot behind some freight cars. The show people are still using the sleeping berths there, and last night their nerves received another shock. About 11 o'clock when many of the members had retired and were in their berths, a shifting engine bumped against the freight cars on the side track which in turn communicated the motion to the sleepers.


No sooner was the jar felt by those in the sleepers than there was a general scramble and a troop of badly frightened showmen attired in robes de nuit made hasty exit from the cars. The sleepers were at the end of the sidetrack and the showmen had become alarmed for fear they were going to be tipped over the embankment. They were not desirous of experiencing any sensations of that kind.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Saturday, June 3, 1893, page 4



The funeral of Frank Train, late treasurer of Main's circus, took place at Logansport, Indiana, last Thursday afternoon and was largely attended. Woll and Parker, the funeral directors at Logansport, in a letter to Burley & Graham, the Tyrone undertakers who embalmed the body, commend in high terms the satisfactory manner in which it was preserved and prepared for burial, which was a great comfort to the friends of the unfortunate man. Committees from the various Indianapolis lodges to which the deceased belonged attended the funeral at Logansport. Mr. Train was thirty-one years old and was the son of Mrs. Mary J. Train, 130 West Second street, Indianapolis.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Monday, June 5, 1893, page 2


Main's circus was billed for Shenandoah today. it's just a week since the ringmaster cracked his whip.


The black tiger which escaped from Main's circus at the time of the wreck was shot by a farmer at Bald Eagle Friday evening. The tiger was in pursuit of the farmer's sheep at the time.


Two nines of circus performers captained by W. Fred Aymer and Harry Ashton respectively are limbering their joints on the Tyrone grounds this afternoon. The circus band is furnishing the encouragement


At the solicitation of citizens, Main's circus band, under the leadership of Prof. F. Mont Long rendered a number of the choicest selections, comprising altogether a delightful open air concert, on Pennsylvania avenue Saturday evening.


The funeral of Robert M. Gates at Graysville on Saturday last was an unusually large one. The procession was more than a mile long and contained about seventy-five carriages. Services were conducted at the Graysville Presbyterian church by the Rev. T. S. Ermentrout. Interment at the cemetery near the church.


Prof. Arthur G. Palmer, the calliopist of Main's circus, was sitting on a porch of the Keystone Hotel this afternoon when a heavy inkstand fell from a second story window and just grazed his left shoulder. The professor was in the wreck and little occurrences of this kind keep his nerves strung to the pitch of his calliope's highest whistle.


Gotleib Wesner, at his farm a mile north of McCann's crossing, shot the silver tip panther which escaped from Main's circus wreck. He heard the panther making a meal off his chickens about 2 o'clock Saturday morning, and without fear of the big beast Mr. Wesner shouldered his rifle and succeeded in putting an end to the animal.


Tyrone and its people are spoken of in the highest terms by the members of the W. L. Main circus company who during their enforced vacation here, have been hospitably treated. As an instance of the disposition of the town toward the visitors it may be noted that when the managers applied for the borough license to exhibit here next Thursday, Chief Burgess Ray told them the license would be the minimum amount "and," he added, "I'll pay it myself."


There are still about twelve whistles for the calliope wrecked with Walter L. Main's circus train, missing and in the hands of persons in this town. These whistles are valueless except as relics to the finders but are extremely necessary for the rebuilding of the calliope, as it is a difficult matter to construct new whistles in the proper tone. The circus authorities are very anxious to secure the missing whistles and any persons having one more of them in possession will return them to the office.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Monday, June 5, 1893, page 4


Main's Circus is Preparing to Take the Road Again This Week.


All is activity with the proprietor, heads of departments and the large force of employes of Walter L. Main's big circus, in preparation for starting out again upon the road with the least possible delay. The stock and animals are snugly quartered at Conrad's park, East Twelfth street, where crowds of visitors have been viewing them during the past two days. The big round top tent is to be erected at once on the show grounds just in rear of the academy of music, where the performances will be given next Thursday. Only one horse has died since the last report of fifty-three, and of the remaining stock, Mr. Evans, the veterinary surgeon, says all will be saved with the exception of one work horse which is too badly injured to recover.


Fortunately Mr. Main had four fine tableau wagons in process of erection at Cincinnati when the wreck occurred and these wagons are now about completed, fitting excellently into the present emergency. Other supplies are ordered from Chicago, Cincinnati, Toledo and New York, to join the circus at the earliest possible moment. Arthur G. Palmer left this afternoon for Cincinnati with a carload of wreckage for repair.


When the wreck occurred Tuesday, George W. Aiken, Mr. Main's railroad contractor, was at Boston, and Ed. C. Knupp, with the bill car number 2, was at Geneva, N.Y. These gentlemen came with all haste to Tyrone and lost no time in pitching heartily into the work of reorganization. Today Mr. Knupp's car and force of twenty bill posters arrived here from Geneva, and this afternoon they are billing the town for Thursday's exhibition in Tyrone. They will leave with the car this evening for Altoona where before tomorrow morning Main's circus will be billed to show in that city on Friday and Saturday. The route after leaving Altoona is not yet definitely fixed. Mr. Main's other bill car, with sixteen men, is awaiting orders at Hazleton.


The showmen here say that since the catastrophe had to occur, they couldn't have found a better place for their temporary stay than in Tyrone where they are receiving first-class treatment. Mr. Aiken speaks in the highest terms of praise of the railroad company and says the officials have done everything in their power to make the arduous work of their reorganization as light as possible.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Monday, June 5, 1893, page 4


Tony Lowande's New Equine Troop.


Tony Lowande, the principal rider in Walter L. Main's circus, was particularly unfortunate in the loss of the admirably trained horses with which he performed his marvellous feats. Seven of his ring horses were killed in the recent week; only one escaped and even this one will not be in good condition and able to perform for some time.


Fortunately, however, Mr. Lowande has resources at his command which enable him to tide over the difficulty nicely, and Tyrone spectators at the show Thursday will see him in his wonderful performances just as though the wreck had not occurred. He had luckily two fine ring horses stabled at Frankford, Philadelphia, and these two steeds have already been shipped here, arriving yesterday. Besides he has telegraphed for four more horses which he rode last winter when engaged with Orrin Bros. circus in the city of Mexico and these four horses will be with the circus as soon as steam can bring them hither.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Monday, June 5, 1893, page 4


Soon Ready for Business.


The immense tents of Walter L. Main's circus have all been erected on the show grounds on the east side. There are the big round top circus tent, menagerie, dressing rooms and side show tents, all in readiness for Thursday's opening. The two rings have been prepared and this afternoon a number of the performers have been rehearsing there. Meantime the horses and menagerie remain quartered at Conrad's Park, and all the force of the show are working with a will to place everything in readiness for a continuation of the season.


Mr. Main remains here directing the reorganizing operations enthusiastically assisted by his lieutenants. Dr. Colvin, his assistant manager, went to Altoona yesterday and arranged for the appearance of the circus there Friday and Saturday. At the meeting of councils in that city last evening a resolution was passed unanimously remitting the usual license tax imposed on such exhibitions. Dr. Colvin was treated with especial courtesy, too, by the railroad officials there. he left in the afternoon for Indiana to buy all the available horses and supplies he could secure from the Buckskin Bill Wild West show which is stranded there, returning to Tyrone again this afternoon.


On Philadelphia express last night, George W. Aiken, Mr. Main's hustling railroad contractor, left for Philadelphia to secure stock and supplies, and he will also arrange for the show's appearance at Harrisburg. Some of the wagons are being repaired here, others will be rebuilt at Cincinnati, and a force of seventy men in the Altoona shops are working today at rebuilding the cars and some of the wagons. Eight flat cars are to be completed and sent here Wednesday evening.


After leaving Tyrone Thursday night Mr. Main's circus will play Altoona two days, going to Lewistown Monday, and to Harrisburg on Tuesday. The advance agents and bill car are ahead and putting up their paper with all speed.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Tuesday, June 6, 1893, page 4


Verdict of the Coroner's Jury.


The jury empannelled by Coroner Poet to inquire into the cause of the death of the five men killed in Main's circus train wreck last Tuesday, met at 7.30 last evening in Herald Hall, continuing in session about an hour and a half when they rendered the verdict that the cause of death was "the fast running of the train down the mountain of the Clearfield branch, Tyrone division, Pennsylvania railroad."


The jurymen were Capt. D. R. Miller, A. A. Smith, David Adams, R. G. McLanahan, D. T. Caldwell and F. J. Heverly.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Tuesday, June 6, 1893


The Monkey Recovered.


One week ago yesterday Walter L. Main's circus was wrecked at McCann's crossing, near Tyrone. As a result of the wreck, several animals of various species made their escape. Among the animals missing was a monkey, which was supposed to be either killed in the wreck or had escaped to the woods. The wagons that were disabled were brought to this city and taken to the lower shops for repairs. While the men were engaged in the work on one of the cage wagons yesterday they found the poor little money huddled closely to the top of the cage. It had been so frightened at the incidents attending the wreck that it was afraid to come from its hiding place, even for food. The interesting little creature was nearly starved when found. It will be returned to the menagerie department of the circus as soon as possible. - Altoona Tribune.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Wednesday, June 7, 1893, page 2


An engagement for Forepaugh's circus to exhibit at Lock Haven on the 24th inst. has been cancelled because the Pennsylvania railroad company has refused to transport any more animals over its lines until a settlement is effected with Walter L. Main. So says the Lock Haven Democrat. The same paper adds that this order has caused consternation among managers of railroad shows.


A report was current here today that J. D. Harrison, press correspondent of W. L. Main's circus, met with an accident this morning while on a hunt for the black tiger which escaped from the circus at the time of the wreck. It was said that Mr. Harrison met the tiger in the woods at the farm of Sylvester Ermine, near Tipton, and in the battle which ensued the ferocious animal injured his pursuer badly. No confirmation of the story could be obtained, however. Mr. Harrison has been out of town all day, and had not yet arrived here in this afternoon.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Wednesday, June 7, 1893, page 4


Another Wreck Watch Found.


Shortly after the Main circus wreck S. M. Widney, the jeweler, had quite an experience with a watch which he bought from a young colored fellow, the timepiece afterward proving to have been the property of Frank Train who was killed in the wreck.


Last evening Mr. Widney also secured the watch of William Heverly, the brakeman killed in the wreck, but this time he profited by experience and did not invest any money in it. A stranger brought the watch to Mr. Widney for sale. The jeweler examined it closely and decided it must be Mr. Heverly's watch as it tallied with the description he had of the lost timepiece. Mr. Widney told the intending seller he would keep the watch a while, when the stranger acknowledged he had found it at the scene of the wreck and left it at the store to be given to the family of the deceased owner. Mr. Widney will turn it over to Mr. Heverly's family.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Wednesday, June 7, 1893, page 4


Walter L. Main left last night for Philadelphia to join his advance representative, George W. Aiken, in the procuring of horses and supplies for his circus. In the meantime his courteous business manager, Dr. E. D. Colvin, is directing affairs at this point.


"I don't like to leave Tyrone," said one of the leading men of Main's circus this morning, "and there isn't a town on earth that I should have preferred to have been tied up in, as we have been. In saying this, too, I know I echo the feelings of every person in the show."


Prof. E. Mont Long, the popular and accomplished musical director of Main's circus, has acted as postmaster general of the company during the past exciting week, handling the voluminous mail matter with the same ease and alacrity with which he handles the cornet and baton. He has replied to many anxious inquires from relatives and friends of the company.


Tyrone Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Thursday, June 8, 1893, page 4


At Last It's Circus Day.


Walter L. Main's reorganized circus and menagerie is now ready for a continuance of the season. Of course the recent disaster has necessarily left the show still slightly crippled in the way of paraphernalia not yet replaced, but their performers are all well and hearty with a good rest to give them vim for a renewal of the work, and the program as rendered is up to the high standard which Mr. Main has so well maintained.


Tyrone is crowded with visitors from the surrounding country today and the show's initial appearance here is met with a warm greeting. The streets were lined with people this morning when the parade took place. Of course the large number of new wagons and dens have not yet all arrived and the procession was not so gorgeous as it has been, but it was a very creditable parade and in a few days Mr. Main will be showing the same magnificent street spectacle which he produced daily before the wreck.


After the parade a free exhibition was given at the grounds, Signor Corella executing some marvelous mid-air flights on the swinging rope, and the jubilee singers rendering one of their choice songs. That gifted orator, Hugh Harrison, directed the exhibition and explained the features of the side-show, after which business began in earnest. Many people visited the side show this morning.


The big tent was crowded this afternoon when the regular performance began, and the performers, who have warm hearts for Tyrone, are giving our people a fine exhibition. The show will be repeated tonight, doors opening at 7 and performance beginning at 8 o'clock. With tonight the stay of Mr. Main and his 300 people in Tyrone will be at an end.


Two Circus People Wed.


A marriage ceremony of more than usual interest took place in Hollidaysburg yesterday morning, the principals being members of the Main circus company. They were R. D. Miller, of Toledo, Ohio, who plays the bass horn in Prof. Long's expert band, and Miss Sophia C. Tupper, of Pittsburg, a niece of Manager E. D. Colvin, and one of the leading artistes in the concert department of the circus.


Mr. Miller and Miss Tupper departed on the early train yesterday morning for the county capital where they secured the necessary license and were then joined in wedlock by Justice C. G. Lowry. They returned to Tyrone to join the company in time for the re-opening today. That their life together may be one of continued happiness, uninterrupted by an experience such as they had last week, is the sincere wish of the HERALD.


Tyrone, Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Thursday, June 8, 1893, page 4


Card of Thanks.


ED. HERALD: Dear Sir: - Will you kindly permit me the use of your columns to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the citizens of Tyrone for their hospitable and courteous treatment accorded me as business representative of Walter L. Main's circus during my stay here? Especially I am grateful to the Masonic, K.P. and Elk fraternities and the excellent management of the Pennsylvania Railroad company and its officials and employes.


While I hope that misfortune will never visit any of Tyrone's residents, I will say that should adversity overtake any man, woman or child of Tyrone when near my home, Chicago, I will be only too glad of the opportunity to prove my heartfelt gratitude by extending every courtesy within my power to alleviate their distress. I am ever yours respectfully, E. D. COLVIN, Business Manager Main's Circus.


Tyrone, Daily Herald, Tyrone, Pa., Thursday, June 8, 1893, page 4 

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