#onthisday in 1899, the Sautelle’s one ring circus, museum and educated animal exhibit performed at the circus grounds in Schuylerville.
The Schuylerville Standard reported on 12 July 1899 that “Everywhere Sig. Sautelle’s big united shows are exhibiting to large and appreciative audiences, twice daily. —There is much which is ” new under the sun ” and all will be found at the afternoon and evening performances given by Sig. Sautelle’s largest, grandest and best one ring circus, museum and educated animals exhibition, which will be in Schuylerville. July 19.”
The Sig Sautelle circus was founded by George Satterly, who later changed his name to Sig Sautelle. George Satterly, the son of a shoemaker was born in Luzerne, NY in 1848. After the outbreak of the Civil War young George persuaded his father to allow him to join the Union Army (18th New York Volunteer Infantry), young Satterly served as a drummer boy. As it turns out this event was the beginning if his circus career. In the army he made the acquaintance of a ventriloquist who began teaching Sig the art.
His first show on the road, a Punch-and-Judy affair. The surname “Satterlee” didn’t have quite the requisite theatrical ring to satisfy George, so he adopted a more exotic name, Signor Sautelle. The public soon dubbed him “Sig.” In 1876, Sautelle married Ida Belle Travers of Fort Edward, New York Sautelle worked on the side shows as a magician, a ventriloquist and a puppeteer. In the 1880s, Sig set out to form the Sig Sautelles Circus. Sautelle’s plan was to tour his circus on a flatboat, (the “Belle” named after his wife Ida Belle) along the Erie Canal. He had special wagons build with short spoked wheels to lower the height so the wagons would pass under the bridges of the canal. This idea was very successful, and after a few seasons Sig purchased a second boat , (the “Kitty”) to accommodate the growing circus. By 1891, he left the canals and according to John C. Kunzog’s book Tan Bark and Tinsel, “(Sautelle) had 225 people on the payroll, boasted two elephants, 14 cages of animals and 150 head of horses and ponies.”
The circus business was good to Sautelle and he became a very wealthy man. In 1900 he moved to Homer, NY where he purchased two hotels which he used to house his employees The circus grew in size and eventually became a railroad circus showing the eastern United States. Sautelle and his wife are buried in the Union Cemetery in Fort Edward. There are many pages on the web devoted to Sautelle however I enjoyed http://ift.tt/2a8AO5M as it has many mentions of our neighboring communities.
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance participated in our community. It is the determination of our forefathers, including the performers who travelled the circuit including Schuylerville that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is helpful in the understanding of the condition of being human.