Edwin B. Yeisley

Edwin B. Yeisley is the son of Edwin Q. Yeisley, who was the cornet player in the Yankee Robinson Band with Karl King.   He also played solo cornet with Barnum and Bailey in 1917 when Karl King was the director.

I, too, played the trumpet but never came close to having the proficiency my father had.   Probably the biggest event of my musical career was in high school.   Edwin Franko Goldman was our guest conductor for two consecutive years.   I played with symphonies, concert bands, dance bands but made my living at Bethlehem Steel Corp. in quality control.

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This photo of the Yankee Robinson Band was taken in Montana.   I am not certain of the year but do know it was either 1910 or 1911.   My dad is in the front center.   Karl is immediately behind him.

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This 1911 photo of the Yankee Robinson Band was also taken in Montana.   My dad is again in the front row, center, holding the cornet (Karl is in the back row).    Several instrument companies sent him trumpets (for free) to use when he was playing with the various circuses so they could say he used their product.   He told me he always returned them to the manufacturer because he felt it would be dishonest to have them say he was using an instrument that he was not playing.


An interesting incident took place when Karl and my father were with Yankee Robinson in 1911, and here it is:

Tom Tom was slightly larger than the other elephants with the Yankee Robinson Circus but was a well behaved and docile animal. Unfortunately he had two problems.   He was blind and he had an unnatural fear of water.   When the circus train pulled into town it meant the elephants had to walk to the area where the performance would take place.   Some times this meant crossing a bridge over a river.   Upon arriving at the bridge Tom Tom would smell the water and refuse to go any farther.

Then it was necessary for the elephant handlers to have the other elephants surround Tom Tom and force him, by the combined weight of their bodies, across the bridge.

On June 24, 1911 in Cumberland, Wisconsin the unexpected and totally unexplainable event took place.   The elephants were chained to the holding stakes in their tent.   Suddenly Tom Tom tore loose and ran to the nearby river walking into the water and although it was unbelievable, he some how drowned himself.

This is the photo of Tom Tom after drowning himself June 24, 1911.


Karl King, 1916

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Karl sent this post card to my father in 1916.   The post mark shows he sent it from Canton, Ohio.   As stated on the card Karl was director of the Sells-Floto Band.   I know my dad played with that circus and it must have been when Karl was director.   Dad always said that Karl was a good friend of his.

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This is the address side of the postcard that is on the other side of the above photo.   I wanted you to see how it was addressed.   It just has my dad's name, musician, and So. Bethlehem, PA.   There is no street address.   My dad was well known and had no problem receiving mail addressed like that.


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Dad also played solo cornet with Barnum and Bailey in 1917 when Karl King was the director.  This is the route of the Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth issued for the 1917 season.   Note that no performances were given on a Sunday.

On June 1,1917 in Uniontown, PA during the performance in the main tent a terrific wind storm developed.   There were numerous reports that it was a tornado.   This storm blew down a section of the main tent, killing two people and injuring others.   Fortunately the section not destroyed by the storm was the location of the band. During this terrifying event, the director Karl King, kept the band playing continually until all the injured and spectators were evacuated from the tent.   It was stated the band music kept the capacity crowd from becoming panic stricken and fleeing in terror.

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Here is the circus staff menu for that day.   It had been originally hand written and then somehow printed on ordinary ruled paper.    As you can see they fed the circus people very well.


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