From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:
This rather biting review of a circus appeared in the Stevens County Reveille, June 28, 1900, page 3:
That Circus, Saturday
“The circus came, conquered, and ‘went,’ as circuses usually do; the richer, perhaps, by a few dollars from Colville and surrounding country, but not sufficiently so to give the proprietors any large attack of ‘fat pocketbook.’ There was quite a crowd in town last Saturday, but there have been larger ones here on eventful occasions. The tent was at no time seriously crowded, the afternoon attendance being of course the largest. In the evening there were not more than 250 persons present. As for the show itself– well, there was a large amount of tent for a very small amount of performance. The institution had some very nice horses, poorly trained; there was no plowed ring, as is usual with a circus; a small plat of ground was inclosed in a circle, and within this was given one of the snidest attempts at a show we have yet seen. There were the usual side shows, including the naughty Hootchie dancers, but we heard of no efforts of the skin game to ply their trade. Our city officers wouldn’t allow it. Altogether, those who missed seeing the ‘Great English-American Syndicate’ are one dollar ahead and those who did attend are that much poorer and wiser.”
The critic was newspaperman Rufus Wood. No, not Rufus Woods, that other newspaperman, the one in Wenatchee who was famous as the “Father of the Grand Coulee Dam.” Although both of the Rufuses had brothers named Ralph and both had a preoccupation with the circus, they were different people.
Rufus Russell Wood of Colville was probably one of the few journalists working in 1900 who was actually born in Washington Territory. His parents were Walla Walla pioneers James Franklin Wood and Caroline Maxson Wood. Rufus was born there in 1863.
Prior to his arrival in Colville, Rufus R. Wood had worked as a printer, newspaperman and salesman in Alameda, California, Medical Lake, Spokane, and Davenport. In 1901 he returned to Spokane, where the city directories indicate he worked as a printer and traveling salesman from 1902-1904.
He later appears to have settled down in the Roseberg, Oregon region, where he died in 1936.
For more information on life in Stevens County at the turn of the century, be sure to explore the Stevens County Heritage digital collection on the WSL website, part of the Washington Rural Heritage project.