Louisville, KY Circus Tent Blows Down, Mar 1873

From the Louisville Commercial, March 11.

The wind that came up at 9 o'clock last night swelled into a gale, and made havoc with the Great Eastern Circus. When the gale began a number of discreet people left the tent, and the manager ordered the top of the tent to be lowered. The performance continued, and about 1,000 beings were watching LOWERY ride his hurdle act, when the centre-pole, which had been swaying to and fro, snapped with an alarming noise, the ropes broke loose, and the immense canvas, supported by guys and poles, fell crushing down upon the ground, burying beneath it the vast array of seats, with their struggling occupants.
Then ensued a scene of awful alarm and confusion. The howling wind and deafening raindid not drown the shrieks and cries of the women and children. The lights were extinguished, and no one seemed to know whether the loss of life was great or small. Women fainted and children screamed. As soon as the managers of the show could collect their men, they rallied to the assistance of the people beneath the canvas, andin a short time nearly every one was extricated. A young lad, thirteen years old, named FRANK SPARKS, who resides near Woodland Gardens, was taken out with his head crushed, and sustaining internal injuries. He was taken to a carpenter shop near by, bleeding at the mouth and nose, and died a few hours later. A younger brother was near him, but his father, who was sent for, was confined to his bed with sickness, and was unable to visit his dying son. Another young man, thought to be a saddler, was also mangled about the head, and so badly disfigured as to render recognition impossible. He was taken to the hospital, no one identifying him, and was dying at midnight. A number of other persons were injured and carried off in hacks by their friends. The darkness and confusion rendered it impossible for our reporter to obtain any facts relative to the number injured or the extent of their injuries. None of the circus company was injured.
The animals connected with the menagerie were in cages in the tent adjoining the circus, and this tent was uninjured by the sudden tornado; but when the accident happened in the circus tent, the great crowd near the entrance to the menagerie made a rush for that mode of egress. In the rush several of the cages were overturned, but fortunately none of the animals were liberated.

The New York Times New York 1873-03-15