By Harold Fuller
Back in the days before television, motion pictures or even radio was all that common; people had to come up with their own entertainment, especially if they lived in a small mining camp. Of course there was generally always a saloon with a card game going on with liquor and cigars which enabled men to socialize. There was usually a back room of the saloon where a man could have female companionship, if he so desired and wasn’t down on his luck to bad. Coryville was no exception.
Some of the men were married, had families and they wanted something better. Of course there were the church socials, as the camp got a little larger, and the picnics and dances with visiting friends and the one room school house for some social functions. But, what if the people of Coryville could come with something really different? Someone in Coryville said “Every kid should be able to see a circus” and the idea was born.
The Coryville Circus Company was formed, over the objections of a few citizens, and stock was sold in the company like any other corporate business. Well, the circus had to have various animal performers, so—for some time, Sam Turner, one of the principal stock holders in the Coryville Circus Company, had been trapping for a California lion. The tracks of two were frequently seen near the town and Mr. Turner was determined to get one for the show-tent. Many mornings he went to the trap and returned disappointed but, one morning he made his usual inspection and as he approached his trap he heard a terrific roar and knew he had caught his game. The trap was down and the lion was inside going around roaring and seeking to escape. Turner picked up a club, cautiously raised the trap and by a well directed low stunned the brute as it attempted to get out. Swinging it over his shoulder by the tail, he started for home, and to keep it from impending his movements by wobbling and twisting he secured the hind-legs under his arms. It was fortunate for the Circus Company that he did this for had he not, the animal would have escaped. The blow which stunned the lion ruptured some veins in his nose and after he had been carried for some distance with its head down blood began to flow and consciousness returned. Now, Mr. Turner although not greatly gifted sideways was very tall and his captive was not able to reach the ground with its paws. The firm hold he kept on his hind legs, by squeezing them to his sides with his arms, confined the animal’s efforts for freedom to his head and front legs. This end was luckily opposed to a stout pair of boots. The boots resisted the claws and jaws of the beast so well that the lower extremities of the gallant trapper suffered but little injury. Once, however, in going down a very steep place the animal caught one of the boot heels and nearly tripped his captor. As Turner approached Coryville he heard the mate of his prisoner roaring protest. This made him feel rather uncomfortable, but he clung to his captive and soon reached town.
There was great excitement on his arrival and some of the company members assisted in caging the animal. A piece of boiler iron was slid down Turner’s back, a heavy dry goods box up against it and over the animal and the work was done. The transfer to the cage was then easy. It was thought that the mate could be easily caught and the Coryville Circus Company would be off to a good start.