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Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

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Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby absolutanjul » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:02 am

This is long so please bear with me... I am researching my husband's great grandfather and great uncle who seem to have just disappeared off the face of the earth after the 1930's census. His Great Grandfather was Edward James Hart born in Harlesden, Middlesex, England between 1891 and 1892. His parents were George and Mary Ann (Hopkins) Hart. A niece of his said they referred to him as Uncle Ted. He emigrated to America in 1913 and some time between then and 1922 moved to Elmira, NY and married Julia Zuris. Together they had 4 daughters (the youngest Pat was born after he disappeared and could possibly be Julia's from another relationship) and three sons. John Hart died at the age of 6 in 1929, Edward II died at 6 months old, and Eugene, who was born in 1922, we can find no trace of after the 1930's census either. A letter we have from a British relative states that Eugene was a dwarf. My husband's grandmother never really spoke of her father simply telling people he was kicked in the head by a horse and died. But here is where things get strange. I have two letters in my possession that were found after her death addressed to her father from Royal American Shows. I anyone is interested I would be happy to email them to you. The dates on the letters are Feb 13, 1928, and Feb 20, 1928. I will type what is in each letter:

Feb. 13th 1928
Newton, KS

Dear Sir,
I am writing you if you are not engaged for this coming season as I am in the position to make you a splendid offer on a show that has my personal guarantee. You will not doubt recall the writer as the talker on Slim Kelly's sideshow. If you have not contracted Skeesix I would be glad to hear from you with your best offer salary or percent. I understand that when with Kelly there was some question about your helping put up and take down. On this show you will have nothing to do but look after your boy as I am to be manager of the sideshow over here this year. I would appreciate an early reply. Yours Truly, R. E. Best

Feb 20th 1928
Newton, KS
Dear Sir,
In reply to your letter of the 16th beg to say that we intend using the boy in a "Blowoff" and would be pleased to have your lowest figures on a percentage basis. It has been some 4 years since we saw the child at work on Kelly's show and since then, of course at a loss to know if you still work him in the same manner with a lecture. We will appreciate hearing from you on that point.
Please bear in mind that this is one of the largest sides shows in the country, has been called the most elaborately decorated one ever on the road. The show has a splendid route through the industrial sections and a good line of fairs. We feel that you will do very well financially while with us. We hope you will take this item in mind in letting us know your percentage. As we are getting our show fast lined up we will appreciate an early reply. Yours Truly, The Royal American Shows Inc. R.E. Best

That's all we've found. Again after the 1930's census both Edward and Eugene drop off the map. Julia is left to raise 4 girls alone and in poor circumstances. Julia dies of heart disease in 1953 at the age of 55. My husband's grandmother Kathryn died in 2012 of Alzheimer's Disease. Before her death she would call out to Eugene. We only learned after her death of his actual existence. Probably a shameful secret in her era to have a dwarf for a brother.

I would really like to find out what happened to these two. It's been a huge family mystery since 2012. All four sisters are now deceased and we know from the British relative's letter Edward did not return to England with Eugene... at least if he did he never contacted his family again. My guess is that they perhaps died while traveling with the sideshow, but I don't even know where to begin looking or how to find them? Does anyone have any ideas? I would love to be able to provide this information to my husband and his father.
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby JMcK » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:03 am

I have, which you have probably already done, quickly looked in the newspapers online (genealogybank.com and newspapers.com) to no avail. Of course if they were performing as a Dwarf act they may have had nom-de-plumes. and it is not helped by Eugene being a place in Oregon!

The only thing I can think of is by looking in the newspapers, find when and where the Royal American Show was and see if local museums have posters, as presumably there were advertisements to draw the crowds. Then - if you can figure out the nom-de-plume you might be able to find the accident...

Or go backward and look at Slim Kelly's shows.

at https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/newsp ... 7Csideshow

its Date: Sunday, October 13, 1935 Paper: News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) and covers 2 pages. The link above is the second page

This is a long article about the side show to be held in conjunction with the state fair. Which talks about World of Mirth Shows, and how Slim (T.W.) Kelly "eats in the same cookhouse with the 22 human curiosities who work for him in the "Believe it or not Odditorium"

there is a blurry photograph of Mike & Ike Rogers twin dwarves who 'headline Midget Village. I think it is likely they just pretend they are twins.
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby JMcK » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:50 am

"Town of Midgets Welcomes Visitors"

https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/newsp ... t%7Cmidget

Town on steel pier at Atlantic city 1931


'...& talking to the Midget's director Mr Billy Hart. Mr Hart is a genial man who manages the troupe of little people living in Tiny Town. Mr Hart is a born diplomat with a sense of humour and a flair for comedy much to be envied etc.....

There is a photograph with Billy Hart in it. of course he looks likes every man you have ever seen in a 1930s photograph so I don't know if you can convince yourself of a family resemblance lol.
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby JMcK » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:14 am

In 1940 there is a Eugene HART age 19, a patient at the Newark State School for the Mentally Defective.

https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903 ... cc=2000219

and it says he was living there on April 1 1935.


And I think it might be his death in 1953 at the NDC state school cemetery.

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.c ... 9&ref=acom

The DOB for that Eugene is 22 May 1921. Do you have your Eugene's actual date of birth?
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby JMcK » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:50 am

on findmypast is Edward's draft registration for WW! https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record? ... 1701329897

First name(s) Edward James
Last name Hart
Sex Male
Birth year 1891
Birth date 29 Aug 1891
Place of birth as transcribed London
Birth country England
Registration year 1917-1918
Citizenship country Great Britain
Residence Chemung County
State New York
Country United States
NARA series M1509
Record set World War I Draft Registration Cards
Category Military, armed forces & conflict
Subcategory First World War
Collections from North America, United States
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby JMcK » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:02 am

Are you sure about Julia's surname? and that HOPKINS was surname of Edward's mother?

there is a 1914 marriage in Elmira of Edward James HART mother's maiden name DAWSON (which probably matches (allowing for dodgy handwriting) with the GRO index registration for Edward James Dec qtr, 1891 Hendon. Mother's maiden name DALMAN.

wife is Julia LORAS
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby absolutanjul » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:42 pm

JMcK: Oh I think that may be him at the asylum. This story becomes even more tragic :( I wonder if Julia had to put him there after Edward left? I'm going to see what more I can find out about that school. I didn't think that dwarfism was related to any type of mental illness. Oh that poor sweet boy :'(

Edwards mother's maiden name was Hopkins, and Julia's maiden name was Zuris. I think it was just hard to read on the marriage certificate. Her parents are from Lithuania and Austria.
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby JMcK » Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:12 am

I don’t see any Hart birth at www.GRO.gov.uk with Hopkins as mother’s maiden name

That school might have admission records. Fingers crossed for you!
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby absolutanjul » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:41 pm

I was able to verify it was indeed our Eugene. I did some research and unfortunately due to health information privacy laws in the States, especially regarding mental health, we cannot get any information on why we was placed there. I just find it odd if Edward were touring with the boy (aka making money off of him) why he would just abandon him in an institution like that? I read it was not a nice place and even had a torture room :( Now I have to go through and see if I can find Edward and his stage name. He isn't anywhere on the 1940's census so I feel like he may have died and his death published under a stage name. This puzzle will take a while.

I have his genealogy from a letter we received from his niece Ann Ratcliffe who was living in South Bretton, Peterborough, England in 2010. I've tried to contact her, but I cant seem to get her mobile number to go through and her email comes back as undeliverable :( Perhaps someone can advise me what I am doing wrong? The number she gave was 07881 934597. Does that seem valid? She was older in 2010 so she perhaps has passed away. I would very much like to reach her if possible.
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Re: Relative possibly in Royal American Shows

Postby Jenaheldd » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:08 pm

I haven't dialed the number, but the mobile number format is correct. Calling from the US, you'd dial 0044 7881 934597
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