St. Louis, Missouri
Circus Trapeze Accident
A LEAP TO DEATH--SHOCKING TRAPEZE ACCIDENT
The St. Louis Journal says:
In the employ of Barnum are probably the two
most daring trapeze performers in the country.
Fred Lazelle and Billy
Millson, who have probably ventured
more daring feats than any other performers, and
in the pursuit of this perilous profession have
received more bruises and serious falls, at
times to recklessness, than fall to the lot of
ordinary mortals. Their bodies are covered with
sores and traces of bruises received in their
profession. This forenoon, at the morning
entertainment, one of the most thrilling
incidents occurred, during the performance of
the trapeze act, occasioned by the fall of the
trapeze mechanism, just after
had left it on his flying leap, and while
Millson was on the trapeze. The fall of the two
men was terrible, and a gymnast and tumbler by
the name of George
North, who was under the trapeze at
the time of its fall, received probably worse
injuries than the other two. The trapeze act was
on about fifteen minutes after 11 o'clock. The
attendance in the hippodrome at that time,
numbered about 5,000 people, a large proportion
of which were women and children. Every act of
the forenoon's programme had passed off
pleasantly and the atmosphere was just cool
enough so that no one suffered from the heat.
The interest of the spectators, however, seemed
to be quickened when the ring-master announced
that the trapeze act was on, which would include
among its difficult feats the famous leap for
life. Lazelle came running into the ring ahead
The former passed under the trapeze and caught
one end of the red cloth strap in his teeth,
that was to carry him up aloft, and grasped hold
of the other side with his two hands on the
other side. Then hand over hand he swung upward,
just as easily as one would go up a flight of
broad, easy stairs. Then followed Millson, and
while the audience were silent and thrilled with
fear and admiration, the two gymnasts went
through their regular work quietly and easily.
When the finale of the act was to come, the
flying leap for life, everyone almost held his
breath. Two attendants ran out to the rope, at
which the performers were to spring and pulled
it out taut.
Lazelle sat, meanwhile, just ahead of Millson,
who was at the farther end of the trapeze,
calmly waiting for his turn. Laselle's [sic]
dark face wore its usual calm expression. He had
no thought of a fall. When the signal was given
below that all was ready, he quickly dropped his
head between the trapeze bars, and while hanging
by his feet he gave a swinging leap towards the
Suddenly he leaves the trapeze. His "pinks"
flash through the air as he catches the rope;
the rope swings back from the momentum of his
fall, and then the gearing of the trapeze
becomes loosened by the giving of the rope and
the trapeze begins to shake as if it would fall.
A groan of horror goes from the crowd, an awful
second of expectation when like a flash of light
down comes the trapeze with poor Millson,
bringing Lazelle with it, and hurling them with
great force to the ground. A tumbler by the name
of George North underneath received the full
weight of Millson with the trapez [sic], and was
stretched out for dead upon the sawdust. A scene
of the wildest confusion followed. Ladies
fainted, children cried and the crowd pressed
forward towards the three men who lay senseless
on the sawdust arena. But the active attendants
of the show were too quick. Before the crowd
could fairly realize what was done the three men
were transferred to the dressing room and
surgical aid sent for.
Lazelle was injured the least of any,
and shortly afterwards, although feeling sore,
made light of the disaster.
Millson is more
seriously hurt. At the time the writer left him
he thought his ribs were broken. But this was
before the arrival of surgical aid.
was injured the most seriously of the three, as
his injuries were of an internal nature.
Titusville Morning Herald, Titusville, PA
16 Aug 1872
Transcribed by Jackie
Harral. Thanks Jackie!
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