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 GYSPY CAMP AT SALT LAKE CITY UTAH DECEMBER 19th 1906

 

Kindly Transcribed by Sandy Buckland

W. Paul Reeve :-History Blazer, February 1995

To most residents of rural Utah in the early 1900's summertime meant hauling hay, digging ditches, irrigating crops, and tending livestock. Other than the usual dances and town parties there was little diversion from the monotony of farm labor--that is until travelling bands of Gypsies began making appearances and causing stirs of excitement. In Deseret, Elsinore, Oak City, Kanab, and other remote communities news of these exotic visitors would spread quickly. Most of the Gypsies were of Balkan, Eastern, and Central European descent and had come to America at the turn of the century. Their nomadic lifestyle took them from ranch house to farm village where they would entertain, beg, and reportedly even steal to survive.

The men in their big hats and spangled vests and the women in full skirts, black braided hair, bright scarves, necklaces made of coins, and large earrings would lead their caravan of wagons, horses, dogs, and children through town. They often entertained the townsfolk with trained animals. In Manti, Sanpete County, one resident remembered a band of Gypsies that owned a large black bear that danced; this group also had a monkey, perched atop an organ grinder, that caught all the nickels thrown to him. In Oak City, Millard County, a Gypsy singer entertained town residents for hours at the city hall with his extensive repertoire. In Elsinore, Sevier County, another Gypsy performed rope tricks; an hour-long demonstration of his skill was a highlight of the town's Fourth of July celebration.

 

In addition to showcasing their various talents, the Gypsies employed other methods to earn a living. Gypsy women would often tell fortunes for fifty cents, many of the men were ardent horse traders, and there are also stories of persistent Gypsy begging. Burt Hales told of the family garden in Oak City from which his father peddled produce to help support the family. One day after his father had given the Gypsies some vegetables, one lady was not satisfied and returned to get more. Hales's explained that he had given all he could and needed the rest for his customers. When the woman persisted and started into the garden, Hales's father had to call the family dog to induce her to leave.

The Gypsies generally traveled in groups of five to ten families and camped in vacant lots on the outskirts of town. They would stay a few weeks to a month before moving on to other communities. In the end, industrialization, the coming of the automobile, and the Great Depression all combined to bring an end to the Gypsies' way of life. In order to obtain government relief many were forced into a sedentary urban lifestyle, and their nomadic wanderings largely vanished. Regardless, memories of the entertainment and adventure that the Gypsies seemed to create linger among older residents of several rural Utah communities.

For additional information see David A. Hales, "'The Gypsies Are Coming! The Gypsies Are Coming!,'" Utah Historical Quarterly 53 (fall 1985): 367-79.

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                                                                               Gypsy Funeral   

                                                                             by Kenneth McCutchan

 

The burial of Elizabeth Harrison on April 1, 1896, brought out one of largest funeral gatherings ever seen in Evansville  

She was the was the queen of a tribe of Romany Gypsies that had emigrated from England in the mid-19th century. Mrs. Harrison died in November 1895, in Corinth, Miss., and her body was shipped to Evansville to be placed in the holding vault in Oak Hill Cemetery until her tribe could assemble from distant parts of the United States to attend the last rites.

As about 50 Gypsies began to arrive in their colorful wagons, they pitched their camp at Lake Park. A sort of picnic grove just off Harmony Way on Evansville’s West Side.

Early on the day of the funeral curious crowds began to gather to watch the caravan pass along the route from the campgrounds to the cemetery.

 

A newspaper reported that inside Oak Hill Cemetery more than 6,000 people awaiting the arrival of a procession.

 

Strange stories had been circulating throughout the city concerning how the funeral would be conducted. One rumor persisted that there would be a ritual burning of her wagon at her gravesite. This did not happen. Actually the ceremony was quiet and dignified, probably much to the disappointment of the assembled sensation seekers.

Four and a half years later, on Christmas Eve, 1900, the body of Isaac Harrison, the Gypsy King, was buried beside his wife. Today , those graves are marked by a tall, impressive granite obelisk.

Harrison had been tragically killed at Martin Station Ala. by a misdirected bullet while trying to break up a fight between his two sons, Harry and Richard.

People have asked , "Why did the Gypsies come to Evansville to bury their dead?"

 

At one time, Isaac Harrison and his bother-in-law owned a substantial piece of real estate north of Diamond Avenue on Evansville’s North Side, in the vicinity of Pigeon Creek and Stringtown Road. For a brief period the Harrisons lived in a large Victorian-style that once stood on the 500 block of Olmstead Avenue.

When that area was plotted off for a subdivision call the Stanley-Burbank Addition in the late 1920s. Stanley Avenue was named for the Gypsy Adam Stanley. He, too, lies buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Othe members of the tribe have been buried here as recently as September 1967. The present generation no longer roams the country, as they did in the old days. Now they are all settled permanently in various parts of the South and no longer call themselves Gypsies.

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                                                                           GYPSY QUEEN BURIED

 

BODY OF SADIE EVANS LAID BESIDE THAT OF HER HUSBAND

Elizabeth New Jersey : Feb 3rd the funeral of Sadie Evans the Gypsy woman took place this afternoon from the camp of her tribe on the Boulevard between Waverly and Elizabeth.

She was reported to be 106 years old.

he body of the Queen dressed in a rich robe of black lay in a handsome black cloth casket, candles burned during the night in a large candelabra at the head of the casket.

The interior of the tent was draped with black cloth over which smilax was festooned. The lid of the casket bore the inscription “ Sadie Evans died January 31st 1900 aged 106.

ON the coffin were Smilax and roses and different floral arrangements sent by members of the Evans Tribe and other tribes from from parts of the country.

Notwithstanding the cold there were a large number of people in attendance many of whom had been attracted by motives of curiosity.

The REV DR F B COBB conducted the services after which the Gypsy Queen's body was buried in EVERGREEN CEMETERY by the side of her husband ROBERT EVANS in 1897

Published February 4th 1900

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                                                                           A GYPSY QUEEN DEAD

 

THE MOST POWERFUL OF THE FORTUNETELLER'S OF THIS COUNTRY

In a little dome shaped tent near the railway station at EL MORA NEW JERSY the body of the late ROSANNA LOVELL a Queen of the Gypsies lay in state yesterday from early afternoon until far into the night.

Three wax candles stuck a upon three crooked sticks burning at her head, cast a mellow light a upon the glistening casket and upon the white muslin draperies of the weather stained tent.

 

Camp fires surrounded by groups of men women and children in whispered conversation sent long lines of smoke trailing across fields and in the early twilight shoe dimly like beacons far at sea, causal visitors came and went, the horses stamped uneasily and dogs like skulking shadows prowled from tent to wagon with hungry restlessness, horse trading was stopped fortune telling ceased for a day the Queen was dead.

Strictly speaking ROSANNA was not a Queen at the same time it maybe said there are no Gypsy Queens in this country although many claim the title. Rosanna never claimed to be a Queen although in point of age influence and worldly prosperity she ranked above all strolling fortune tellers in America.

 

She was born in England about 102 years ago until 1870 she roamed over England telling fortunes in villages in the suburbs of the cities and at country fairs.

In 1870 she came to America and continued the same nomadic life. Her husband WALTER LOVELL to whom she was married very many years ago accompanied her and did profitable business Horse trading with venturesome strangers. He is now about 76 years of age and is hale and hearty as though he was scarcely 50 He is BOSS of the LOVELL & SMITH band.

 

Rosanna was his wife there was no Queen except in the imaginations of romantic minded people in the provinces, the Band in number of about 30 with 16 wagons came from near Oakdale Park Philadelphia about a week ago, at that time ROSANNA was taken ill , A physician who was called in said she was dying of old age.

On Wednesday night she died, She will be buried today in EVERGREEN CEMETERY

Two years ago ROSANNA and her band performed in the ROMANY RYE at Booths Theatre in this city She liked the experience very much, WALTER LOVELL and others of the band own houses and lots near Elizabeth.

Published May 30th 1884

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THE NEW YORK TIMES FEBRUARY 23 1896

English Gypsies

From good words

There are 3 brothers Joshua Esau & Gus Gray.

Joshua is tallest of the three men like his brothers he is of thin build but there is something in his movements that seems to tell of a vast reserve of strength in his slim wiry frame when on his feet he stands as erect as a guardsman and there is a natural diginity in his carriage that is rare among the sons of men.

His mouth is hiden by a heavy dark drooping mustache which gives him something of the appearence of a spanish don. but though his demoeanor is grave and self possessed there is a mark alertness in the reastless glances of his clear gray eyes. His dress consists of a long dark coat and vest tight fitting cordurory breeches and light box cloth leggings he wears a small peaked cap tied up over the crown of the head and a colored silk hankerchief fastened loosely round his neck.

Esau & Gus are not quite so tall as their elder brother but their clothes are smarter and of a more pronounced pattern The ends of Esau mustache are waxed to a point and he grows a carefully trained imperial.

While Joshua is content with the humble cherry wood pipe Esau smokes his insubstantial cigarette, but withstanding these signs of the times there is little to indicate degeneration in this swarthy rover.

His reputation as a Boxer is widespread among the sporting fraternity of Norfolk and Suffolk and more than one drowsy yokel of the marshland has had cause to regret the taunt that stirred the quick pulsing gypsy blood as a clog dancer too he has not many  equals and not a few prizes have been awarded him for his agility in this direction

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