Circus Members Remember Killed Trapeze Artist

More than a century later, a circus performer

A copy of the newspaper story from 1908 about when Clark was shot.

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- More than a century later, a circus performer's memory lives on in the Valley after a trapeze artist died in an accidental shooting.

"God bless you Eva, God bless the circus," said Cole Brothers Circus Ringmaster Chris Connors by the tombstone of Eva Clark at the Thornrose Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.

It's a tradition that circuses stopped decades ago, but as members of the Cole Brothers Circus pick up honoring a past star, people still remember her to this day.

Performers from the circus kneeled and placed a wreath to remember the trapeze artist from 1906.

"I think today she's looking down on us," said Connors.

Eva Clark was only 27 years old when an accidental shooting killed her.

"Very beloved in the very short time that she was here, she lay in a hospital for three weeks before she passed on," explained Lucinda Cook, a volunteer with the Augusta County Historical Society.

She was only in the city for a performance. "She is listed as one of the star performers," said Cooke.

"She was a part of our circus family. It might have been in 1906, but it's part of our history," said Chris Connors, the Ringmaster of the Cole Brothers Circus.

Decades have passed since the Cole Brothers Circus has visited the grave of their family member.

Local historians say people who live here continue to remember.

"A wreath would appear during the holidays and that continues to this day. So there are people that know about her and think she's worth remembering," said Cooke.

As people head to the circus this week, "People come out and see the flying trapeze and see the pretty girl, in the air and think, wow that's what Eva would have done," said Connors.

"It is amazing to me how many newcomers strangers come to Staunton and are taken in and beloved by the community as she was," said Cooke.

Those who remember hope others will know the legacy Eva left behind. The Cole Brothers Circus is in Fishersville on Tuesday night.

They're hopeful they can continue the tradition of visiting Eva's grave.


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