William Washington Cole

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William Washington Cole (1847 – March 10, 1915), was part owner of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.[1]


He was born in 1847 in New York City to the contortionist William H. Cole and wire walker Mary Ann Cooke.[2] In 1884, he established "W.W. Cole’s New Colossal Shows", which survives to this day, as the Cole Bros. Circus.[3][4]

He died on March 10, 1915.[2] He left an estate in excess of $5,000,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b "W.W. Cole left $5,000,000". New York Times. March 20, 1915. Retrieved 2009-10-17. The will of William Washington Cole, part owner of the Barnum Bailey Circus, disposing of an estate in excess of $5,000,000, was filed for probate yesterday. There were bequests aggregating $100,000 to religious and charitable institutions. The widow, Mrs. Margaret C. Cole, will receive $200,000, all household and personal effects, pictures, books, jewelry, and one-fourth of the residuary estate.
  2. ^ a b William Lawrence Slout. "William Washington Cole". Olympians of the Sawdust Circle. Cole, William W. (1847-March 10, 1915) Born in NYC, the son of contortionist William H. Cole and high school rider and wire walker Mary Ann Cooke. First year in the business, H. Buckley & Co., 1857. Four years after his father died his mother married Miles Orton of Orton Bros. Young Cole learned the circus business growing up on the show, beginning as ticket seller and general helper and progressing to side-show spieler, layer-out, ringmaster, bill-poster and advance agent. Became a sideshow proprietor, 1867. ...
  3. ^ Atwell, Harry A. (1935). "Cole Bros. Circus". World Digital Library.
  4. ^ "Cole Bros. History: W.W. Cole's Legacy Lives On". Cole Bros. Circus of Stars. Retrieved 22 January 2014.