"To Each His Own"
FRANCES PADILLA LOTER
1925 - 2003
Frances Loter Padilla of Hugo, Oklahoma performed in circus sideshows with an act not many would be brave enough to attempt. She and her "co-stars" are immortalized in a ceramic photo on her gravestone.
1915 - 1976
Kenneth Ikirt was a circus showman for 30 years. The World War II army veteran is said to have been especially good dealing with elephants known to have bad tempers. At various times he toured with the Kelly Morris Circus, Ringling Brothers, and John Pauling's Great London Circus. He was also the elephant trainer for the Miller family shows.
The back of his grave marker exclaims, "Boss elephant many for Carson-Barnes Circus, Largest Elephant Herd in America."
CHESTER L. "TEX" CLAYTON and LUCILLE CLAYTON
1908 - 1979 and 1907- 1978
C. L. “Tex” Clayton was the “24-hour man” for Al G. Kelly and Miller Brothers Circus. He traveled a day ahead of the show, making final arrangements for the 30 or so vehicles and approximately 100 circus people. A former rodeo man, whose home was Hugo Oklahoma, never saw the circus road show performances, as he was always ahead of the tour on the road. The last time he would see the acts was during dress rehearsals in the spring.
His wife Lucille was a juggler and had a huh wire act with their young daughter, Mary.
The circus wagon etched on their marker bears their initial "C," and the slogan "With It and For It" is emblazoned across the bottom of the stone.
KEN "TURTLE" BENSON
1945 - 2001
Ken "Turtle Benson" was an elephant man with several shows, but spent his last years with Roberts Bros. Circus. He was so dedicated to the shows that he left a VA hospital in his last days to return to the Roberts Bros. Circus. He passed away shortly afterward.
LILLIE JEAN "RIGGINS" DOYLE
1933 - 2008
Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate any information about Lillie Jean in old newspapers or circus publications.
She was certainly a lovely lady, and many admirers stop by to look at her photo.
If you know anything about her life or career, please share it with us.
Samuel was a member of the famous Perez Family from Mexico City, who perform with the Kelly Miller Circus. He was a dynamic trapeze and acrobatic performer whose act included jumping rope on top of a spinning wheel known as the "Wheel of Death," shown on the back of his marker.
He suffered an untimely death due to illness. A piece of acrobatic equipment had been left on top of his marker along with the beautiful floral arrangements.
There are many other fascinating grave markers and stories in Hugo's Showman's Rest cemetery that I will share in the future. For now, I think it's time to move to other areas and stories.