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Sig Sautelle
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Sig Sautelle

Sept. 22, 1848 - Jun. 21, 1928

Sig Sautelle Circus
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Sig Sautelle's and ring barn and hose
Photo credit: The Library of Congress
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George Satterly, the son of a shoemaker was born in Luzerne, NY in 1848 he later changed his name to Sig Sautelle. After the outbreak of the Civil War young George persuaded his father to allow him to join the Union Army, young Satterly served as a drummer boy. As it turns out this event was the beginning if his circus career. In the army he made the acquaintance of a ventriloquist who began teaching Sig the art.

Sig worked on the side shows as a magician, a ventriloquist and a puppeteer. In the 1880s, Sig set out to form the Sig Sautelles Circus. Sig's plan was to tour his circus on a flatboat, (the "Belle" named after his wife Ida Belle) along the Erie Canal. He had special wagons build with short spoked wheels to lower the height so the wagons would pass under the bridges of the canal. This idea was very successful, and after a few seasons Sig purchased a second boat , (the "Kitty") to accommodate the growing circus.

The circus business was good to Sig and he became a very wealthy man, (although short lived). in 1900 he moved to Homer, NY where he purchased two hotels which he used to house his employees. In 1902 Sig constructed a "ring barn", (a circular shaped building used for winter training of horses and circus acts, see photo).

In 1904 Sig's wife, Ida Belle, suffered a stroke preventing her to keep up with the active pace of circus life. To care for his wife Sig return to Homer and sold his circus later that same year.

After several years of recovery Ida Belle's health improved. In 1911 Sig started a new circus with partners Oscar Lowande and George Rollins,

In 1913 tragedy struck again when Ida Belle suffered a second stroke. Sig sold his share of the circus to Danny Robinson and the Sautelle's returned home

In 1914 Sig, unable to pay his property taxes and due to his wife's medical expenses, Sig was forced to file bankruptcy. Ida Belle Sautelle died in 1916.

After his wife's death Sig worked at various jobs until 1927 when he formed a new truck show however the circus failed the first year. Sig Sautelle died the following year, Jun. 21, 1928.

Sig Sautelle
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