Lyons, IA Circus Performer Dies In Fall, July 1891



Lyons, Iowa, July 13. -- This afternoon, during FOREPAUGH'S Circus performance, WILLLIAM HANLON, one of the famous HANLON brothers, was, by the breaking of a trapeze bar, thrown thirty feet to the ground and instantly killed. His neck was broken. HANLON was thirty-one years old, English by birth, and leaves a wife sick in New York. HANLON once before fell sixty feet in the Academy of Music, New York, escaping death miraculously. He had performed in all the principal cities of Europe.

All theatregoers will remember the terrible fall which WILLIAM HANLON had in the Academy of Music on the night of the 23d of last August. The performance was that of the HANLON-VOLTER MARTINETTI Pantomine and Novelty Company, which was making its first appearance in this city. The show had progressed satisfactorily through several acts up to the last number on the programme, when the accident occurred. The "act" was performed by WILLIAM, JAMES, and ROBERT HANLON, and the two latter had gone through horizontal-bar feats on a bar fixed at the very dome of the academy. Then WILLIAM began the "giant swing" on the same bar.
Suddenly the performer was seen to slip from the bar and drop headlong through the air. He struck the net with terrific force far over on one edge and then glanced off against the orchestra chairs, where he lay to all appearances dead. The cause of the accident at that time was the breaking of the fastenings at one end of the horizontal bar, letting that end of the bar drop down, so that HANLON who was whirling around in the "giant swing" necessarily was thrown off from the released end.
The injuries received at the time of HANLON'S fall in this city were wonderfully slight, considering the distance through which he had fallen. They comprised a severe scalp wound and a wound on one foot. No bones were broken, and in less than two weeks he was able to resume his place with the show.

The New York Times New York 1891-07-14