Courtesy Ohio Historical Society
The Sells brothers founded a circus that eventually was sold to James Bailey. The show morphed into Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth.
from: Business First, bizjournals.com
December 7, 2012
An elephant traipsing through a Columbus backyard today would generate endless news coverage, but there was a time when a venture by four brothers made the possibility of that occurring much more likely.
Ephriam, Lewis, Peter and Allen Sells owned and operated what would become the second-largest traveling circus in the country. The Sells Brothers Circus was founded in 1872 and for more than 30 years performed before huge crowds. Their circus was groundbreaking in some respects and in its final days it became part of an American institution.
When the troupe was not touring, they established a winter circus home where Lennox Town Center and its menagerie of retail shops on Olentangy River Road near Ohio State University sits. Sellsville was a self-contained community housing the animals and performers plus their families. Remnants of those days can be viewed in some of the street names such as Sells Drive or Chambers Road, named for the founders and Bill Chambers, a World War I hero and son of one of the elephant trainers.
The brothers were born between 1836 and 1845 in this order: Allen, Lewis, Ephriam and Peter. Their story begins in the late 1700s when great-grandfather, Ludwig Sells, and great-uncles arrived in the Dublin area and ended up owning significant amounts of land.
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