Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Year Tiger Bill Brought His Wild West Show to the Hills

During the year 1909, Teddy Roosevelt ended his term as president of the United States and William Howard Taft succeeded him. Robert Peary, Matthew Henson and four Eskimo explorers reached the North Pole and the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition opened in far away Seattle, Washington.

It was life as usual in the rural hills of Itawamba County during 1909. In town the merchants sold their wares from their store fronts as they greeted their customers on the town square and farmers planted and gathered their crops. The extent of community social affairs included such events as box suppers, all day singings, church protracted meetings, and apron hemming parties for young girls. But 1909 proved to be a special time in the county. It was the year that Tiger Bill brought his famous Wild West Show to the hills of Itawamba County.

On Saturday, April 8, 1909, Tiger Bill created a great deal of excitement in town and the surrounding countryside. On that warm spring day, a big tent was stretched near the town square and the village was buzzing with excitement as word spread throughout the countryside. As the noon hour struck, a parade of animals and performers walked around the town square advertising the two o’clock afternoon show and the eight o’clock evening show to a large audience of curious onlookers who had gathered along the dusty streets.

The citizens of the town and nearby countryside were thrilled and entertained by the likes of Dave and Jerry, the world-famous comic trick mules, and Professor Snyder and his highly educated dogs and monkeys, There were leapers, tumblers, contortionists, funny clowns and hundreds of other novelties awaiting the populace under the big tent.

After the sold-out Fulton performances the "moral, refined and artistic" show moved on to the Tilden community, then to Tremont and Rara Avis during the following days before heading into neighboring Alabama as daily life and commerce in Itawamba County returned to normal.

1909 was truly a special year in Itawamba County, Mississippi. It was the year Tiger Bill paid the county a visit.

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