James Anthony Bailey

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James Anthony Bailey
James Anthony Bailey ca1890s.png
Portrait of J.A. Bailey, circa 1895
Born James Anthony McGinnis
(1847-07-04)July 4, 1847
Detroit, Michigan
Died April 11, 1906(1906-04-11) (aged 58)
Mount Vernon, New York
Cause of death Erysipelas
Spouse(s) Ruth Louisa McCaddon (m. 1868)
James A. and Ruth M. Bailey home in Harlem, New York City

James Anthony Bailey (July 4, 1847 – April 11, 1906), born James Anthony McGinnis, was an American circus ringmaster.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Orphaned at the age of eight, McGuiness was working as a bellhop in Pontiac, Michigan, when he was discovered by Frederic Harrison Bailey (a nephew of circus pioneer Hachaliah Bailey) as a teenager. Bailey gave McGuiness a job as his assistant and the two traveled together for many years. James Anthony eventually adopted Bailey's surname to become James A. Bailey.

Bailey later associated with James E. Cooper, and by the time he was 25, he was manager of the Cooper and Bailey circus. He then met with P.T. Barnum, and together they established Barnum and Bailey's Circus (for which Bailey was instrumental in obtaining Jumbo the Elephant) in 1881.

James Anthony Bailey was married to Ruth McCaddon of Zanesville, Ohio. He died of erysipelas.[2] He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, in The Bronx, New York City.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "A Cesar Among Showmen. James A. Bailey, The Partner And Successor Of Barnum. He Is The Creator Of The Modern Circus. His Tremendous Energy And Working Ability. How He Became What He Is." (PDF). New York Times. April 19, 1891. Retrieved 2007-07-21. One of the most modest little men that ever lived has been forced to the front by the death of P.T. Barnum. James Anthony Bailey for ten years has been Mr. Barnum's partner. He can, without exaggeration, be called the creator of the modern circus. He has lifted the circus to a standard that renders almost ridiculous the laws that once were so necessary for its regulation. 
  2. ^ "James A. Bailey, King Of Circus Men, is Dead. News Kept From Performers Till The Show Was Over. Widow Gets Circus Stock. Showman Died Of Erysipelas At His Country Home Near Mount Vernon After A Week's Illness." (PDF). New York Times. April 12, 1906. Retrieved 2007-07-21. While the band blared and the clowns made fun and the elephants walked around at the circus last night for the thousands in Madison Square Garden, there were few among the spectators who knew that James A. Bailey, the backbone of the "greatest show on earth," lay dead in his home, The Knolls, near Mount Vernon.