Due to York County’s crossroads location, its residents have had access to many experiences during the past few hundred years. We were not nearly as far off “the beaten path” as we are sometimes made out to be. For instance, children in more remote areas could read about exotic animals, but they would often be brought in person to our area.
An example is the extensive ad below from the August 26, 1840 York Republican. It reads:
EXHIBITION OF LIVING ANIMALS, SERPENTS, BIRDS &c.
Messrs. JUNE, TITUS, ANGEVINE, & Co. will exhibit their extensive Menagerie and Aviary in York on Monday August 31st, 1840.
Among the animals may be seen the greatest curiosity in the animal kingdom, the CAMELOPARD or GIRAFFE, of Egypt; also the following rare curiosities: the striped Zebra, the Gnu, or Horned Horse; the Peruvian Lama; the great Cinnamon Bear of the Himelaya Mountains; Kangaroos, of New Holland; the great Numidian Lion and Lioness; the Panther of North America; Royal Bengal Tiger; the Polar, or great White Bear; the BLACK TIGER, the only one ever exhibited in the country; the young Elephant of Siam; the Poonah Bear of Hindoostan; Monkeys, Apes, Baboons, &c. &c. &c.
There will be a monkey & Poney performance for the amusement of the Juvenile Class. A good band of Music will be in attendance.
Hours of exhibition from 1 to 4 P.M. Admittance 25 cents; children under 10 years of age 12 ½ cents.
There will also be exhibited at the same time and place, a large collection of Cosmeramic views and six enormous Living Anaconda, the exhibition of which will be enlivened with comic singing. Admission twelve and a half cents.
A.H.. MEAD, Agent August 25, 1840
For clarification of uncommon terms, see below:
New Holland: An early name for Australia, especially the western and northern part.
Numidia: Under the Roman Empire, part of Africa north of the Sahara desert.
Siam: Former name of Thailand.
Poonah (Pune): A city in India.
Hindoostan (Hindustan): India, especially the northern portion.
cosmorama: an exhibition of views of various parts of the world made to appear realistic by mirrors, lenses, and illumination
I am still trying to figure out the connection between very large snakes and “comic singing.”
(June, Titus Angevine, & Co. seems to have been the largest circus company in the country in the first half of the nineteenth century. They were the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey of their day.)
Menageries and circuses seem to have frequently made stops in York. The Lewis Miller drawing above is of a giraffe that came to town with a show just a year earlier, in 1839.