Pearson circus overwintered in Ramsey

The other day, on my way to Vandalia, I was met by three semi trucks hauling carnival rides. After all, this is the season for carnivals that winter in the southern states to make their northern trek, providing entertainment for us in the hinterland.
When I returned home, I pulled a file that I had started some time back on the Pearson Carnival, whose home was Ramsey. It was Mrs. Pearson who had the Ramsey connection.
The news articles in my file begin in February 1927 with an article that Capt. C.E. Pearson had made a business trip to Decatur on Tuesday and, while there, met with the officers of the Macon County Fair Association.
He was hired to furnish shows and riding devices for the “Glad Way” at the Macon County Fair, one of the largest in the state.  The C.E. Pearson Shows also was hired by Shelby County Fair Board for its fair.  
The next newspaper article I have in my file is the obituary of Capt. Claude E. Pearson, who died on Sept. 2, 1934 in Ramsey.
It tells that he was born on June 15, 1883 near Fairbury, and was first married to Vinna Johnson, who died in 1918, age 16. They were parents of two children: Veldon and Lucena Frailey (Mrs. Mack). He then married Anna Jane Staff in 1920.
He was a telegrapher for the Wabash and Rock Island Railroad and later entered the carnival business, making balloon ascensions and handling free acts.
He was admired as an honest businessman. He was a Mason and his burial was in Ramsey Cemetery.
Surviving with his wife and children were two brothers and a sister, Freeman and Grover Pearson, and Mrs. Frank Kreig.
Three years later, in early January, we next catch up with “Mrs. Janet  (sic) Pearson, owner and operator of the Pearson Shows, attending the Indiana Agricultural Fair Association meeting.”
It is about this time that Anna Jane returned to Ramsey for a short visit while her shows were in Newman at the Douglas County Fair. She reported that business had been fair that year, with only a couple of bad windstorms that wrecked one tent for her.
She told that The Pearson Shows had also received great publicity in The Big Eli News, where not only was the front cover of the magazine devoted to a flashy picture of her Big Eli Ferris wheel taken at night, but the inside cover contained a likeness of Mrs. Pearson, along with a write-up of her activities and shows.  A picture of her merry-go-round was featured on page 3.
As the carnival season for 1940 ramped up, so did the Pearson Shows, who under the management of Anna Jane, hit the road April 25 for an engagement in Pana, where they were to open on Saturday for a week-long engagement under the auspices of the Elks’ Crippled Children’s Fund.
Mrs. Pearson told the Ramsey News-Journal that their schedule for 1940 included many return engagements to places where they had shown for years.
Although the pickings in my file were thin, the five news articles it did contain gives us a general idea of the activities of the Pearson Shows. We learned that they over-wintered in Ramsey, and it stands to reason that some Ramsey area folks worked for the Pearson Shows as they traveled around the country.
There is a great deal we don’t know, but I’ll keep my eyes out for old newspaper articles.

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