Circuses criss-crossed America to great fanfare, few more impressive than that of Adam Forepaugh and his elephant-trainer son, Addie, Jr. Forepaugh’s Circus & Wild West Show was second only to PT Barnum’s, and a great rivalry arose between them. Barnum’s famous Jumbo was taller, but Forepaugh’s Boliver was heavier, prompting both to claim they had the biggest elephant in the world. And when Barnum got an elephant with white patches, Forepaugh whitewashed one of his (the same elephant that would later box clowns with a giant boxing glove on his trunk). They eventually split the country into exclusive sections, altho they managed to resolve their differences at times and play combined shows in Philadelphia and New York. When Forepaugh sold his train and equipment to Ringling Brothers, that circus became the biggest in the county, eventually buying up Barnum’s.

Such a show was too big for a town like Bremen, but in May of 1887, on its way to South Bend, Forepaugh’s train was sidetracked for a time in Bremen to allow another train to pass, and many citizens had a look at the elephants and paid to see (and, in the case of Wes Albert and Bill Feldman, participate in) the wild west show.

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Bremen Enquirer – 21 May 1887

Forepaugh circus train

Forepaugh circus train – c1900

The excitement surely encouraged many to go to South Bend to see the full show. In fact, it may have raised the dead.

Bremen Enquirer – 28 May 1887