The first woman in America to own and operate a circus, Agnes Lake spent thirty years under the Big Top before becoming the wife of Wild Bill Hickok—a mere five months before he was killed. Although books abound on the famous lawman, Agnes’s life has remained obscured by circus myth and legend.
Linda A. Fisher and Carrie Bowers have written the first biography of this colorful but little-known circus performer. Agnes originally found fame as a slack-wire walker and horseback rider, and later as an animal trainer. Her circus career spanned more than four decades. Following the murder of her first husband, Bill Lake, she was the sole manager of the “Hippo-Olympiad and Mammoth Circus.” While taking her show to Abilene, she met town marshal Hickok and five years later she married him. After Hickok’s death, Agnes traveled with P. T. Barnum and Buffalo Bill Cody, and managed her daughter Emma Lake’s successful equestrian career.
This account of a remarkable life cuts through fictions about Agnes’s life, including her own embellishments, to uncover her true story. Numerous illustrations, including rare photographs and circus memorabilia, bring Agnes’s world to life.