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Birth Year : 1820
Death Year : 1908
George Coleman was a famous jockey in the 1830s. He rode in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and other locations. Born in Charleston, SC, Coleman was a slave in Kentucky when he belonged to the Lindsay Family. It is believed that George Coleman lived in Madison County since he remembered being neighbors with Cassius and Henry Clay. In his later years, George Coleman was a member of the circus managed by Dan Rice, who had hired George Coleman from Colonel Lindsay. Coleman worked with the horses in the circus for three years. George Coleman came to Guadalupe County, TX in 1856 with Major Hicklin, a relative of the Lindsay family in Kentucky. As a free man, George Coleman and his family settled in Seguin, TX, where he died in 1908. According to the U.S. Census records, George Coleman was born around 1820 (not 1798) and he was not free prior to the end of the American Civil War. He was the husband of Mary (b. in KY), and the couple had six children [source: 1870 U.S. Census]. Three of the children were born in Kentucky and three in Texas. George Coleman made his living as a farmer. For more see "Former slave dead at 110," The Washington Post, 07/18/1908, p. 1; and "Is dead at the age of 110 years: Uncle George Coleman once a famous jockey and circus man," The Daily Express, 07/17/1908, front page, col. 6.
Subjects: Circus, Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, Betting, & The Derby, Migration North, Migration West
Geographic Region: Charleston, South Carolina / Madison County, Kentucky / New York / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / Washington D.C. / Seguin, Texas
Goshen, Colonel Ruth
Birth Year : 1824
Death Year : 1889
Colonel Ruth Goshen, a circus employee who was billed as an 8-foot giant, went by many different names: Ruth, Routh, Deruth and Rutherford. His birthplace was also in question until just prior to his death; circus managers would claim that Goshen was born in Jerusalem, or Prussia, or Turkey, or that he was an African American from Kentucky. Neither his names nor birth locations were correct: Goshen was not Arabic nor African American nor Turkish nor Prussian. Nor was he 8 feet tall. Goshen was about 7'6" tall and his real name was Arthur Crowley [Caley]; he was born on the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, bordered by England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For more see "Colonel Ruth Goshen" in American Sideshow: an encyclopedia of history's most wondrous and curiously strange performers, by M. Hartzman; Arthur Caley, at the A Manx Note Book website; and "The Giant is Dead," The New York Times, 02/14/1889, p. 3.
See photo image of Colonel Ruth Goshen at Wikipedia.
Subjects: Circus, Hoaxes
Geographic Region: Isle of Man, Europe / Kentucky
Johnson, "Big Winnie"
Birth Year : 1839
Death Year : 1888
Johnson was born in Henry County, KY, on either Boyd Club Farm or E. M. Bryant Farm. She was billed as the biggest woman in the world. Johnson was a widow and mother of ten children, she turned to show business after her husband died in 1882. At her death, Johnson weighed 849 pounds. She had been showcased from a boxcar, travelling throughout the United States. Johnson died of fatty degeneration of the heart and was buried in Laurel Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. At the time of her death, only three of her children were alive. For more see "Big Winnie Johnson," American Sideshow: an encyclopedia of history's most wondrous and curiously strange performers by M. Hartzman; and "Big Minnie's Burial, The Prize Fat Colored Woman Laid to Rest Yesterday," The Baltimore Herald, 09/14/1888.
Geographic Region: Henry County, Kentucky / Baltimore, Maryland