Page 37 - March2017

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Little remains of George Washington Christy’s personal
history. He was born on February 22, 1889, in Pottstown,
Virginia, and led a seemingly unremarkable life until he made
his way to Texas and opened the “Christy Hippodrome Show”
in 1919. It was a “two-car” show at its inception, both of
which he bought from Ringling Bros. after they discontinued
their street parades that were typically held prior to the
performances at the big top; at the time the number of cars
was a quantifiable barometer for the size and perceived
success of a traveling show.
Circuses at the time would travel from late March through
November and spend the interim winter months stationary
in a select location. Prior to his first tour in 1919, Christy
and his small band of performers and animals wintered
on the west end of Galveston Island. That year the group
participated locally by providing entertainment for a program
hosted by the Knights of Columbus Galveston Council No.
787, and they made headlines when a camel for the show
arrived at the Port of Galveston to the amazement of curious
onlookers.
Thus Christy the showman
developed a sentimental
fondness for the Island and
returned year after year. Even
after he purchased land and
moved his winter location to
South Houston, where he built
a home and staging area for
his animals and equipment,
Galveston always maintained
the distinct honor of being the
first show of every season.
The big top would be set up
on 37
th
Street at the site of an old baseball park. Before performances began,
Christy and his showstoppers would parade from the circus grounds all the way
to 20
th
and Postoffice Street and then back again.
From there, the now renamed Christy Bros. Circus would travel a new cross-
country route every year. After several performances across Texas for much
of April, the band would venture to innumerable locations all over the nation,
rarely hitting the same city or town twice in
subsequent years.
Some years it would gallivant from the
Dakotas to Montana, Minnesota, and
Wyoming, swing around to Oregon and
California, back through Arizona and Nevada,
and finally from Missouri to Oklahoma to
Arkansas. Other years they would go due
north all the way to Canada and return
through New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and
Louisiana.
Over the course of thirty-two and a half
weeks, the circus would play upwards of 225
cities in as many as twenty-one states and
George Christy and Ken
m
aynard, circa 1927
Christy Bros. performer Little Bob Stevens
Christy Bros. ticket wagon
Past & PresenT |
Galveston Lost
MARCH 2017 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
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