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Attractions wanted.


Balloon ascensions


Amusements elsewhere

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Allegany County
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19th Century Amusements

In 1889 Allegany County, Maryland, celebrated its centennial. The event was a three day occasion with parades by school children one day, trades another and the President of the United States on the third. Speeches were given, baseball games and tennis matches played, concerts performed and balls attended.

And then there were the entertainment, amusements, attractions – all the performances intended to enhance the experience of those traveling distances to Cumberland for the occasion. To find suitable performers and exhibits was the work of the Amusement Committee, headed by R. W. McMichaels. Mr. McMichael placed an advertisement in the New York Clipper in August 1889, possibly run four times. The Clipper was a weekly newspaper used by the entertainment industry, including circuses, to advertise events, report news and also look for future performers and venues.

From the printing of the advertisement in the Clipper came responses from Missouri to Massachusetts. Aeronauts were the principal responders – offers of numerous "Professors" to leap from balloons and sail through the air supported only by flimsy parachutes. Some would even perform tricks on their way to the ground. There were offers of strength, for example the wife of Charles Millie could lift heavy weights with her teeth. The Two Blatts did amazing feats swimming underwater in a tank. Captain Paul Boyton could paddle about, set sail, fish, shoot, cook and eat supper, all while in the water in his rubber suit.

This collection includes some of the replies that the Amusement Committee of the Allegany County Centennial Committee received in September of 1889, including pyrotechnic (firework) displays. Letters came from the amateur self-promoters to the flamboyant and dashing entertainers, from the Champion Lady Cornetist of the World to the owner of the Flying Horses Merry Go Round.

Western Maryland Regional Library is grateful to Kevin Curlis for his assistance with this project.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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