One strange incident occurred at the [Rensselaer] park and was reported in the papers. A Cannibal with one of the shows bit a Lansingburgh resident and the local newspapers proclaimed that the man would probably die as a result of the bite. The cannibal escaped, but I can’t find out what happened to the victim.
Rittner, Don. “Troy’s Roller Coaster Days.” http://www.donrittner.com/his6.html
Rittner, Don. Troy: A Collar City History. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2002. 140.
Last evening during the performance of Barnum’s show Charles Kohl, one of the ticket sellers, caught a small boy and choked him severely. Detectives Squire and Ryan remonstrated and the fellow replied insultingly. Soon afterward Kohl caught another boy named Frank LeFlann, aged thirteen years, and repeated the choking operation. The remonstrance of the detectives was followed by another insulting reply. Kohl was thereupon arrested. On the way down he said to detective Ryan that his ticket-box had been broken open and $65 worth of tickets stolen. He heard one of the boys remark to the other that he had a ticket and was going into the circus. Suspecting that they were the thieves, he caught and choked them. This explanation came too late and the belligerent ticket seller was locked up. This morning his trial was set down for to-morrow.
While Gilbert Utter and a friend were examining the woners on exhibition, one of the “cannibals” connected with the show stepped up and bit Mr. Utter’s friend. The man resisted, whereupon the cannibal struck and beat him. A warrant for the arrest of the cannibal was issued by Justice Donohue this morning and detective Ryan went to Albany to serve it. The gentleman assaulted is laid up to-day. The people who have supposed that these cannibals were part of the humbugs which Barnum affects can now make up their minds that they are genuine man-eaters.
Lansingburgh Gazette. October 3, 1874: 3 col 3.
Barnum’s Showmen in Trouble—A Brother of the King of the Cannibal Islands Arrested for Resenting an Insult.
Charles Cole, the agent for the Life of Barnum, who was arrested at the circus in this city, Thursday, for assaulting a man at the entrance to the tent, pleaded guilty, this morning, to assault and battery, and paid $5. Some sneak-thief stole three hundred tickets from Cole’s wagon while the circus was here, and Cole saw a man attempting to pass into the circus on one of the stolen tickets; hence the assault.
Another affray occurred at the circus Thursday night. A number of citizens residing on Oakwood avenue were at the circus, and when Schiem, a Feejee islander, said to be a cannibal, and brother of the king of the islands, passed, insulting epithets were applied to him. He retaliated upon the offender, as he supposed, and knocked down a painter named Charles Lambert, residing near Douw street, on the avenue. Not content with this, the cannibal jumped upon Mr. Lambert, striking him on the leg. Yesterday Detective Ryan went to Albany to arrest the cannibal, but was at first unable to find him. He returned to the circus last night, in company with Detective Dwyer of Albany, and asked for Schiem or “Jim,” as he is called. The manager requested that Mr. Ryan wait until the cannibal had been exhibited, which request was complied with, and subsequently a young man was sent to this city with him. “Jim” can talk English quite plainly, although he has been in this country he says but three years. He said “de white-ee man callee me bad name, an I hit im.” He was taken before Justice Donohue this morning, H. A. Merritt appearing as counsel. Mr. M. first asked for a trial by jury, stating that Justice Donohue could not try the case at present as it would be necessary to send to the Feejee islands for an interpreter, “Jim,” being unable to talk English plainly enough to testify. He finally pleaded guilty, however, and paid a fine of $25. Mr. Hopkins, the press agent connected with Barnum’s, stated that “Jim” was under sentence of death in his own country for some state crime. We learn that he was elected congressman-at-large by his constituents in the islands, but was subsequently impeached for surreptitiously eating an English missionary’s baby, but we don’t believe this story. He talked very plain English after the bail was settled. We are informed by the manager that “Jim” has frequently caused him trouble in other cities by his pugilistic propensities. Mr. Lamber is quite seriously injured, his leg being swollen very badly. The cannibal made a mistake in his man, it is thought, as Mr. L.’s friends state that they did not hear Lambert say anything to “Jim.”
After the above case had been disposed of in court one of the attaches of the circus troup said that the “darned [n…] had given himself away by talking English;” that he was not a native of the Feejee islands, but was a full blooded negro.—Daily. 3d.
Troy Weekly Times. October 8, 1874: 3 col 1.