Philadelphia, PA Trapeze Accident, Apr 1880


From the Philadelphia Telegraph, April 15.
One of those dangerous accidents which are liable to happen as long as the flying-trapeze performances are continued, occurred at the great combination circus yesterday afternoon. The DAVENE family -- father, mother, and daughter -- perform a daring feat, the great attraction of it being the danger which attends it. MRS. DAVENE hangs head downward, with her feet in two small rings secured at the top of the standard. Fastened over her shoulders and about her arms she holds the ropes of a small trapeze, from which her husband suspends himself, likewise head downward. In this position he catches his daughter LUCY, a slender child, as she swings from a trapeze 50 feet distant. She is first caught by the hands, then by the feet, and a third time by the hands, turning a somersault in the last feat as she swings from her trapeze. Every precaution is taken to secure against accident, a strong netting being spread underneath the trapeze to break the fall of the girl when she is not caught, as frequently happens. As she was about to perform the somersault feat yesterday, she fell from the trapeze, striking at full length on the ground. When picked up she was senseless and bleeding, having received a deep cut on the back of the head, and severe bruises about the temple. She was carried to the dressing room, and three physicians who had witnessed the accident volunteered their services for the girl. She was soon taken to her boarding place, vomiting blood freely while being carried along. It is impossible to tell the result of her injuries as yet, as the spine may be injured. No fatal results, however, are apprehended. The cause of the accident was at first not understood, but it was finally ascertained that as she leaped from her standard she threw her feet up, intending to catch them in the trapeze. As she did this her head struck the standard upon which she stood, inflicting the severe cut on the back of it, and stunning her. This, of course, loosened her hold on the trapeze, and she fell to the ground, the netting only being stretched under the trapeze from which her father hung.

The New York Times New York 1880-04-18