1847 : James A. McGinnis (James A. Bailey) of Barnum & Bailey Circus Fame Born in Detroit

July 4, 2018 all-day

A Detroit native, James A. McGinnis took the surname Bailey at the age of 14 when he joined the circus. Developing a striking talent for advertising and management, he bought the Cooper & Bailey Shows, which toured under canvas the world over. Further success came in 1880, with the purchase of Little America, the first elephant born in this country. Bailey would later join forces with Phineas T. Barnum in 1887, creating the Greatest Show on Earth. Barnum dies in 1891, and Bailey ran the mammoth three-ring show until his death in 1906.

For more information, see Michigan History, September/October 2008.

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