" Rodeo Capital of the East "
For nearly 20 years during the 1940's and 1950's, Waverly had a most unique claim to fame. It was home to the only rodeo ranch east of the Misissippi. Real cowboys and Indians rode through the streets of the village and just out of town could be seen teepees and bunkhouses, all the trappings of the real west.
Colonel Jim Eskew came to Waverly on the invitation of Ed O'Brien and was persuaded to make the Loomis farm on top of Talmadge Hill his winter headquarters. O'Brien enlisted the aid of Dayton Handrick and A.C. Palmer and other prominent businessmen. Together they took the idea to the Waverly Board of Trade, which agreed to purchase the old farm.
The arrival of Colonel Jim and his several hundred rodeo members signaled the beginning of a real economic boon to local businessmen. All supplies needed during the winter months were purchased from these merchants.
Because the rodeo toured throughout the mid - Atlantic and New England states, location here was logical, as it saved Eskew the expense of shipping horses and personnel back to Texas each year.
The first quarter - horses bred in this part of the country were raised at the ranch with sales totaling over $150,000. Eskew also purchased an additional 500 acres, adding to the value of the ranch.
The J.E. Rodeo, whose owners and stars were well - acquainted with such personalities as Tom Mix and Roy Rogers, offered a once in a life time opportunity for Waverly residents, young and old, to experience something very special.
A performance by the rodeo was a highlight of the Fourth of July, and of nearly all important Waverly celebrations during these two decades. The Centennial Celebration 25 years ago featured seven shows at the stadium.
Visitors came from hundreds of miles away to see performers that had starred in much bigger towns and arenas, including Madison Square Garden.
But, as with all things that happen when the time is " right", there can come a wrong time. The advent of television and an increased desire to travel further than the top of the hill spelled the end of Waverly's moment as the " Rodeo Capital of the East. "
The ranch is now only a few empty buildings and the happy memories shared by residents of the Valley.
Note: Frederick Mellon Clancy, "Fog Horn Clancy" starred in the rodeo and apparently loved this area so much he is buried in Glenwood Mausoleum. He was born Apr. 4, 1882 in Phenix City, Ala. and died in Waverly on Sept. 28, 1957. His wife, Alice Cowan Clancy is beside her husband. She was born in Wyoming, Ill. and died in Waverly on Apr. 14, 1941.
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Ernie Miles...... This page was updated Wednesday, 26-Mar-2008 06:51:26 PDT.