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Family Spalding
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Birth: unknown
Death: unknown

"DR." GILBERT R. SPALDING, whose portrait appears on this page and whose death is recorded in our circus department, was born sixty-eight years ago in Coeymans, Albany County, N.Y., and the title of "Doctor'' was generally prefixed to his name by his friends and acquaintances because, from about 1840 to 1846 be kept a drugstore at the corner of Lydius and Pearl streets, in Albany. The cause of his entering the show business was the loaning of some money to Sam Nichols, a well-known circus-manager, who gave him for security a mortgage upon his circus property. Bad business prevented Mr. Nichols from re-paying the money at the time specified, and Dr. Spalding foreclosed the mortgage, but permitted Mr. Nichols to run the show. Finding, however, that by pursuing such a course be was not likely to speedily recover his money, be personally visited the circus with the intention of running it into Albany, and there disposing of the property by auction or private sale. Before reaching Albany he discovered that under his energetic management the show was making money, and as he liked the business, be determined to continue in the management for a time, at least—that time extended over a period of thirty years. The show was known as Spalding's North American Circus. In the season of 1847-8 he visited New Orleans, La., and coming North, upon reaching St. Louis. Mo., he divided his company into two shows, retaining the original title and management of one, and putting Dan Rice at the head of the other, with Col. Van Orden (Dr. Spalding's brother-in-law) as manager. He chartered a steamboat called the Allegheny Mail, and in it the last-named company cruised on the Ohio, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Among the performers of this company were Dan Rice, clown; Frank Rosston, H.P. Madigan. Hurnell Runnells and family, Mons. La Thorne, W.B. Burnish John Glenroy, Thomas Osborne, Hiram Day and others. In the Fall of 1848 Dr. Spalding sold to Charles J. Rogers one-half of the North American Circus, and the following spring the show started on the road newly organized and equipped. Among the novel features then presented for the first time were the Apollonicon drawn by forty horses, four abreast, and driven by one man; tableaux portraying Incidents from the lives of Gen. Putnam and "Mad" Anthony Wayne; and the carrying of a horse and rider on men's shoulders. The Dan Rice Show in the Winter of 1848-9 while traveling In the South, were compelled to disband owing to the fearful ravages of cholera, in the Spring of 1849 Dr. Spalding again started Dan Rice at the head of what may be termed in this connection a land show, traveling by wagons. In the Fall of the year, in settling up the business, the entire show reverted to Dr. Spalding. The Spalding & Rogers North American Circus continued its travels, meeting with success, and in 1850 during the first tour through New England, Dr. Spalding invented and used the quarter-poles, eleven-tier seats and extra front seats, now in general use by all circus companies. A year or two later, in the West, Spalding & Rogers built the Floating Palace (upon which entertainments were given on the Western rivers) and the steamboats James Raymond, Banjo and Gazelle, and also purchased the Jenny Lind, Allegheny Mall, Loyal Hanna, North River and Fairy, all being used in comforting their business. In 1868 Spalding, Rogers & Bidwell (David Bidwell having previously been taken into copartnership) took a ten years lease of the Pelican Theatre, New Orleans, La., reconstructed it and fitted it up in excellent style, so that it could be used for either a circus or a theatre. It was christened Spalding & Rogers Amphitheatre, which title some rears later was change to that of the Academy of Music, which it still retains. It has undergone several reconstructions, is now a very beautiful theatre, and is owned and managed by David Bidwell. During the next few years Spalding & Rogers had two and sometimes three companies touring this country and Canada, traveling by railroads wagons and water. In 1860 they put a circus and dramatic company into the Bowery Theatre, this city, and produced equestrian dramas in spectacular style, and from there they transferred their entire forces to the Boston Mass. Theatre (then known as the Academy of Music), where they played a highly successful engagement of some weeks' duration. In the Spring of 1862 a magnificent portable amphitheater was constructed upon an entirely new plan, the Brigantine Hannah was purchased and fitted with accommodations for a circus company, and the next two years were passed in Brazil, Uruguay, Buenos Aires and the West Indies. On the return voyage the vessel was wrecked at Long Branch, N.J., the people and horses, together with some of the baggage, being saved, but the amphitheatre, wardrobe, properties and vessel were lost. Notwithstanding this disaster, the venture was a great financial success, and it is said that more honors were bestowed upon the company than had been received by any other similar troupe in a foreign land, in 1866 Spalding & Rogers dissolved partnership, and Mr. Rogers retired from professional life, and has since resided near Philadelphia, Pa. The copartnership between Spalding & Bidwell continued, and shortly afterwards they leased and rebuilt the Olympic Theatre, St. Louis, Mo. Having already the Academy of Music, New Orleans, La., they leased theatres in Mobile. Ala., and Memphis, Tenn. and established a theatrical circuit, which they conducted successfully for a few seasons, Thomas B. MacDonough being associated with them in a managerial capacity, and the firm-title being Spalding, Bidwell & MacDonough. In 1867 a scheme was devised to send an American circus company to Paris, France, to perform during the Exposition. The manager and capitalists were Avery Smith, Gerard C. Quick, John J. Nathans, Dr. G.R. Spalding and David Bidwell An edifice in which they were to have performed was built for the purpose by Mr. Kennedy of Albany, N.Y. It was of wood, with a canvas top, and had the following capacity: Forty-four private-boxes, besides an imperial loge, seven hundred and sixty parquet seats, fourteen hundred and twenty balcony seats, and a gallery capable of accommodating nearly two thousand persons, the seats being all cane-bottom chairs. Col. Van Orden had been sent in advance to Paris to prepare the way for the company, which was very strong. The chief attractions, according to the files of THE CLIPPER, included James Robinson and his son Clarence, Frank Pastor, Robert Stickney, G M. Kelly, Lorenzo Maya, the Rollande Brothers, Wm. Conrad, Charles Rivers, the performing horse Hiram, a performing buffalo, and a troupe of Indians. Most of the company and all the stock, consisting of twenty-three horses, two mules, and a buffalo, also four horses belonging to James Robinson, left New York in the steamship Guiding Star March 30, 1867, David Bidwell and Gerard C. Quick accompanying them. The other performers followed in steamships that sailed at later dates. After arriving in Paris, and when nearly all the preparations for their showing had been made, it was discovered that a local law prevented the erection of any wooden building within the city limits; consequently they could not use their pavilion, and, all other places being engaged, the venture was about to end in failure, when fortunately opportunity was given the American company to play for a brief time, but the result was not what had been expected. In 1872 Dr. Spalding again put Dan Rice on the road with a show managed by Harry W. Spalding, who was dangerously wounded by a pistol shot In Baxter Springs, Kas., which was probably the remote cause of his death, which took place at his father's residence in Saugerties, N.Y., Feb. 4. 1874. Dr. Spalding's last venture, we believe, in the circus business, was during the tenting season of 1875, when be was the principal backer of Melville, Magintey & Cooke's Centennial Circus and Thespian Company. Spalding & Bidwell dissolved copartnership some few years ago and in the division of the property David Bidwell retained the Academy of Music, New Orleans, and Dr. Spalding the Olympic Theatre, St. Louis, which has been successfully managed by his son Charles for a few years past. Spalding & Bidwell had recently formed what may be considered a new copartnership, as a few weeks ago they purchased the St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans. La., which they intended to restore to Its previous position of a first-class theatre. The deceased left a widow and one son. Charles. Besides Harry W., whose death is referred to above, there had been a daughter who died, when quite young, in 1847. Dr. Spalding's remains will be brought from New Orleans, to Saugerties, and will probably be burled in his native town. – The Clipper, NEW YORK. SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 1880.
Family links: 
  Guy Carleton Spalding (1780 - 1854)
  Nancy Reynolds Spalding (1793 - 1862)
  Family Spalding
  Gilbert Reynolds Spalding (1812 - 1880)*
  Fanny Jane Spalding Robbins (1812 - 1853)*
  Maria Louise Spalding Springsteed (1819 - 1850)*
  Caroline Adelia Spalding Van Orden (1821 - 1845)*
*Calculated relationship
Albany Rural Cemetery
Albany County
New York, USA
Created by: yorkies1
Record added: Nov 18, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80675483
Family Spalding
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Added by: Teena (Mayham) Schroeder
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