Ringling brothers

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The Ringling brothers (originally Rungeling) were seven American siblings of German and French descent who transformed their small touring company of performers into one of America's largest circuses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[1][2] Born in McGregor, Iowa and raised in Baraboo, Wisconsin, they were the children of harness maker Heinrich Friedrich August Ringling (1826–1898), of Hanover, Germany, and Marie Salome Juliar (1833–1907), of Ostheim, in Alsace.[3] They merged their Ringling Brothers Circus with America's other leading circus troupes, ultimately creating the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


  • Albert "Al" Ringling (1852–1916). He divorced his wife in 1914, aged 63 and died of Bright's disease in Wisconsin.[4][5]
  • Augustus Gustav Ringling "Gus" (1852 – December 18, 1907), largely self-educated, a founder of the circus, August died from complications of varying diseases at a sanatorium in New Orleans, aged 55, where he came two weeks early hoping that the warmer climate would help.[1]
  • Otto Ringling (1858–1911). He died on April 2, 1911 at the home of his brother, John on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. They were in New York for a show at Madison Square Garden.[6]
  • Alfred "Alf" Theodore Ringling (1861–1919), was a juggler. He had a son Richard Ringling and a daughter Marjorie Joan Ringling who married Jacob K. Javits of the Hotel Ambassador Manhattan. He also had a granddaughter Mabel Ringling who married Richard Durant, an elephant trainer.[7]
  • Charles Edward Ringling (1863–1926).[8]
  • John Nicholas Ringling (1866–1936), could sing and clown.[1]
  • Henry Ringling (1869–1918) the youngest of the brothers, died on October 10, 1918, from heart and other internal injuries.[9]
  • Ida Loraina Wilhelmina Ringling (North) (1874–1950) who married Harry Whitestone North (1858–1921) in 1902. Their sons were John Ringling North and Henry Ringling North.[10][11][12]


  1. ^ a b c "Augustus Ringling Dead. Head of Tented Shows In America Dies in New Orleans." (PDF). New York Times. August 19, 1907. Retrieved 2008-07-20. When the Ringling Brothers bought the Barnum Biley show they ... got a monopoly on the circus business in America. They now own outright three ... 
  2. ^ "The Ringlings in the McGregor Area". Retrieved 2008-07-21. Beginning their tented circus in 1884, Alf T. Ringling, Al Ringling, Charles Ringling, John Ringling, and Otto Ringling soon became known as Kings Of The Circus World. A sixth brother, Henry Ringling, joined the show in 1886. In 1889 the seventh Ringling brother, A.G. "Gus" Ringling, joined the show ... 
  3. ^ Montgomery, David and Kelly McCullough. "Albert C. Ringling." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified May 29, 2014.
  4. ^ "Ringling Seeks Divorce. Albert, 63, Eldest of Five Brothers of Circus Fame, Begins Suit.". Washington Post. May 8, 1914. Retrieved 2008-07-22. A sensation was caused here this afternoon by the announcement that suit for divorce had been started by Albert Ringling, aged 63 years, oldest of the five brothers of circus fame. 
  5. ^ "Al. Ringling Dead. Veteran Circus Man Stricken with Bright's Disease In Wisconsin." (PDF). New York Times. January 2, 1916. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  6. ^ "Tribute to the Memory of Otto Ringling. His Body Taken to Wisconsin." (PDF). New York Times. April 2, 1911. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  7. ^ "Mabel Ringling Plans To Marry". Associated Press in St. Petersburg Times. September 28, 1947. Retrieved 2009-02-12. Miss Mabel Ringling. 23, granddaughter of a founder of the Ringling Bros. Circus, and a performer in the big show, confirmed today that she and Richard ... 
  8. ^ To, Speeiaz (December 4, 1926). "Charles Ringling, Circus Owner, Dies. Member of World's Greatest Show Organization. One of Six Famous Brothers.". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-21. One of the famous "six brothers of Baraboo," Charles Ringling was the son of a harness maker of Baraboo, Wisconsin. The brothers, John, Charles, Otto, Al, ... 
  9. ^ "Henry Ringling Dead" (PDF). New York Times. October 12, 1918. Retrieved 2008-07-23. Henry Ringling, youngest of the six brothers who during the last 25-years have been prominent in the circus world died yesterday of heart and other internal disorders. 
  10. ^ "Died". Time (magazine). 17 June 1985. Retrieved 2008-07-20. John Ringling North, 81, flamboyant, fast-talking showman who from 1937 to '43 and from 1947 to '67 ran "The Greatest Show on Earth," the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, started by his five uncles in 1884; of a stroke; in Brussels. North took over the debt-spangled show after the death of his last uncle, John Ringling, and modernized it with such attractions as Gargantua the Great, the "vehemently vicious" 550-lb. gorilla that drew more than 40 million circusgoers. In 1956, North folded the big top and reincarnated the show for new arenas of the air-conditioned era. 
  11. ^ Lambert, Bruce (3 October 1983). "Henry Ringling North, 83, Dies; Owner Who Modernized Circus". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-22. Henry Ringling North, a former owner and manager of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus founded by his uncles, died yesterday at a hospital in Switzerland. He was 83 and lived in Begnins, near Geneva. He died after a long illness, said his lawyer, Richard Cunningham. 
  12. ^ "Mrs. Ida Ringling North Dies in Sarasota". Washington Post. December 22, 1950. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 

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