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A Circus Wedding

Readers of the Seward Reporter on August 9, 1883, learned of a recent wedding in the community in which the bride and groom were not area residents, but members of a traveling circus then performing in Seward. "Last Sunday evening nearly all of the employes [sic] of S. H. Barrett & Co.'s show were at the Grand Central Hotel," said the Reporter, "to witness an event which is a novelty in circus performances-the wedding of Mr. Frank Whitlock, one of the attaches of the circus, and Miss Lottie Grant, the fat woman.

"Landlord Underhill gave the party the use of his dining-room for the ceremony, and the circus people filled it to overflowing. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. T. L. Sexton, after which the happy couple received the congratulations of their friends, refreshments were served, and a merry time generally was enjoyed.

"The bride and groom received many handsome and valuable presents, among which were a diamond ring, an engraved gold ring, a gold locket, a fine photograph album, an autograph album, a dressing case, several articles of silverware, and a large number of smaller articles. Accompanying the gifts was a letter of congratulation from the members of the company.

"The bride is an attractive feature of the show, being remarkable for her size. She is 27 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall; and weighs 593 pounds weight. He is a fine-looking young man, and is spoken of very highly by his associates. He is superintendent of the annex or side-show department. The bride is said to be quite wealthy, although probably she is hardly worth her weight in gold."

The groom, Frank Whitlock, listed in contemporary entertainment publications as a "museum ticket agent" and "side show talker," was probably not as well known as his new wife. Elizabeth Charlotte Stice Whitlock, who used "Lottie Grant" as a stage name, was a well-known circus fat lady, who traveled with several different shows during the 1880s and 1890s. Her circus career did not prevent her from marrying three times and giving birth to several children.

"Such a wedding seldom takes place," concluded the Seward Reporter, "and while the bridegroom has certainly assumed a 'heavy' responsibility, he has also secured a wife who is able to protect and defend him. May their shadow never grow less."

(August 2006)



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