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When the circus came to Springfield
4 26 07 bottom of circus ad from Herald10-17-1913
Bottom portion of ad in 1913 in Springfield Herald - photo by Photo submitted

Recently I saw several advertisements for a small traveling circus, which performed at the Effingham County Fair Grounds in Springfield.  94 years ago, KIT CARSON’S BUFFALO RANCH WILD WEST CIRCUS (or Show) performed at Springfield on Oct. 30, 1913. The Brinson Railway (railroad) was laid from Savannah to Springfield by Mr. George M. Brinson in 1907. Mr. Brinson went on to lay railroad track for over one hundred and fifty miles through Georgia. This railroad allowed the traveling circuses and wild West shows to come to our area.

The “Kit Carson Buffalo Ranch Wild West Circus” arrived in Springfield by a special train of “forty double length railroad cars.” Basically this was a Wild West Show and not really a circus. Mr. Brinson built a train depot and on the city map of Springfield he had surveyed of the town in 1907, he showed a spot by the depot identified as “City Park.” Today this site would be the paved parking lot across from First Effingham Bank and the Springfield City Hall on Laurel Street. I believe this was the site of the wild West show in 1913 because it was by the old depot and railroad sidetracks.

An advertisement  appeared in the “Springfield Herald” dated Oct. 17, 1913. This wild West show advertised a “$25,000.00 herd of performing buffalos.” It had a large collection of “cowboys and cowgirls” and “Indians.” There were “Russian Cossacks” (horsemen), “Bands of Sioux, Cheyenne and Comanche Indians” with a footnote: “fresh from the Campfires and Councils, making their first acquaintance with the pale face civilization.” This show was also advertised with a reenactment of “The Battle of Wounded Knee” and having “Indians, Scouts, Trappers and Soldiers that actually took part in the battle.”

One of the largest events of the day was the “Grand Gold Glittering Free Street Parade, over two miles long on Main Street.” Another article in the Oct. 17, 1913 newspaper showed: “Get up to town early and get a good place as our streets will be crowded. There will be people here from thirty miles around.”  

The Wild West Show advertised “Bring in your bad horses and mules and our cowboys will ride them free of charge.” with a footnote: “$30.00 will be paid to any person bringing a horse or mule they cannot ride.”

 I am sure this was the largest and grandest event that had happened in Springfield up until this time.  The old advertisement tells the rest of the story.

This article was researched and data compiled by Norman V. Turner of Historic Effingham Society.  If you have comments, photos or topics to share for this column please email