1902 Season

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1902 Season
Manager(s) Joseph W. Dusenbury
The Olentangy Park Company
Opening Day May 18, 1902
Closing Day September 21, 1902
New Attractions Figure Eight Toboggan
Miniature Railway
Stock Company Olentangy Stock Company

Olentangy Park opened for the 1902 season on Sunday, May 18, 1902.[1] The opening week presented a Grand Musical Festival, featuring Signor A. Liberati's Famous Military Band and Concert Company, assisted by opera singers, who performed twice daily.[2] Souvenir sheet music of some of Liberati's compositions were given to patrons. Patrons were invited to request performances for specific days ahead of time.[1] Manager Joseph W. Dusenbury said 23,000 people attended the opening Sunday.[3] The park closed on the night of September 21, 1902.[4]

Harry DeMuth, of Lancaster, was re-engaged as the park's advertising agent.[5]

Trolley Power Issues on Opening Sunday

The trolley cars were used so much on that opening Sunday that the feed wire connections burned out at Spring and High streets, visibly smoking until the power at the central station was turned off. This was caused by a break the Friday prior that disabled a large engine at the power plant. Even after working to repair and eventually removing smaller engines to replace the large ones, materials were not available in time. This cut the horsepower to a third of the strength it normally had to run the trolley cars. The break was fixed by noon the following Monday.[6]

Continued Pushback from Religious Groups

Religious groups, including the North Congregational Church, published resolutions about not approving of the park operating on Sundays. This is a continued effort ever since the theater opened in 1899.[7]

Reported Vandalism

Carl Ruffe [or Charles Ruple] and Fritz Cheney, of East Cherry Street, were charged with throwing stones at and breaking multiple the electric light globes. They were released after paying the court costs.[8][9]


John Field

In March 1902, the Olentangy Park Company sued John Field for $250 (around $8,660 in 2022) on a contract for $450 (around $15,600) for the program privilege during the season of 1899.[10] The judge ruled the park company should receive $174.25 (around $6,040) because Field already paid $100 ($3,465) and did not receive credit.[11]

Property Issues

In June, Henrietta B. Burgher [misspelled Bugher], the ex-wife of Henry T. Chittenden, filed an equitable relief suit against Chittenden's property, asking for the foreclosure of a mortgage, causing liens on the property, and a receiver. This property included Olentangy Park. The property the park sat on, along with other parts, was to receive 6 percent interest, but this interest allegedly went unpaid since July 1, 1901. Only $10,000 ($346,525 in 2022) has been paid on the property, where $50,000 (over $1.7 million) was owed. Bugher wanted the mortgage satisfied by the sale of Olentangy Park as well as the property on Cussins Street.[12] Through the lawsuit investigation, it was discovered that park manager J.W. Dusenbury signed a 99-year lease on the park's property, renewal forever, beginning in March 1901 for a monthly cost of $250 ($8,663). The Columbus Railway Company waived its lease on the property. The total mortgage for 27 acres was $52,699.25 (over 1.8 million).[13]

Discrimination Accusations

In July, Rev. J.M. Riddle, field missionary for the Baptist Church, and P.W. Chavous, proprietor of the local Black newspaper, were allegedly accused of being prevented from bowling. The young man in charge of admission to the alley told them the alley was in use. Later, the park employee said it wasn't really in use, and he said he was told by Manager Dusenbury to not allow Black patrons to bowl and to do it kindly by saying the alley was in use. The Rev. Riddle and Chavous said Franklin County Commissioner Amlin witnessed the discrimination. A week before this incident, a group of Black patrons were refused entry for the same "in use" reason, even though two lanes were not used the entire time they were there. The adults in the group explained they'd only want to play a single game with the children and were sure those who claimed use of the alley would understand and allow them to use if they appeared. The management continued to refuse them entry. Rev. Riddle and Chavous planned to sue the park.[14]

Hays-Mackey Fence Dispute Continues

Main Article: Hays-Mackey v. The Olentangy Park Co.

In January, the dispute over the placement of fences on the south and east sides of the park was brought to trial. J.W. Dusenbury claimed the "roads" were never dedicated for public use.[15] Judge Evans ruled in August 1902 that the streets were public property and the fences would need to be moved back 15-25 ft. (4.6-7.62 m). This ruling was based on an 1887 deed by Mrs. Guetner for the property to be public property.[16] Dusenbury appealed this decision.[17]

Unpaid Grocieries

Henry Becker sued J.W. and W.J. Dusenbury for $204 ($7,070 in 2022) for groceries furnished at Olentangy and Minerva parks and Bryden Hotel.[18] This was later increased to $206.95.[19]

Injuries and Deaths

On July 12, 1902, Mrs. John Hindmarch, 57, fell from the Merry-Go-Round while at the park with her two granddaughters. She fell while checking on her granddaughter, her head landing on a rock. She later died from her injuries. Her family had just moved to Columbus from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, two months prior.[20][21]

On September 21, 1902, Albert Jenkins received several broken ribs and a broken leg on the Figure Eight. He was released from the hospital on October 30.[22]

Rides and Attractions

New Figure Eight Toboggan

Main Article: Figure Eight Toboggan

A new roller coaster was built north of the Theater called the "Figure Eight Toboggan" sometime around the end of July 1902.[23] It cost $15,000 ($519,788 in 2022) to build.[24] The term "roller coaster" was new at the time.

New Miniature Railway

Main Article: Miniature Railway

The miniature railway was added around the same time as the Figure Eight.[25]

Bowling Alleys

Main Article: Bowling alleys

W.E. Josephy showed a new bowling-type game called "Red, White, and Blue" on alley No. 4 during the closing week (September 15-21).[26]


Main Article: Boathouse

A fire destroyed the mills on June 13, 1902.[27]

List of Rides and Attractions

Theater, Vaudeville, and Stunt Performances

Olentangy Park Casino and Theater

Main Article: Olentangy Park Casino and Theater

The prices were the following: Night performances: 10 cents, 20 cents, and 30 cents ($3.47, $6.93, and $10.40 in 2022). Boxes: 50 cents ($17.33). Matinee performances: (10 cents, 15 cents, and 20 cents ($3.47, $5.20, and $6.93). Children were free at matinees except on Sundays and holidays.[28] They were sold at Mykrantz's Pharmacy, 13 S. High St.

Signor A. Liberati's Famous Military Band and Concert Company, assisted by opera singers, performed twice daily during opening week (May 18-25) both outdoors and at the theater.[2]

After the first week, the Olentangy Stock Company performed performances at the theater. The performers included Olive Oliver and Eugene Moore.[29] Matinees were every day except Monday and Saturday. Box seat prices were also no longer listed in ads.

The local Musicians' Union fought with Manager Dusenbury over the theater's orchestra being non-union members.[30] After warning about calling the orchestra to strike, the Musicians' Union and Dusenbury came to an agreement by June 14.[31]

There was a rumor in June 1902 that actor Harry Mestayer accidentally stabbed actress Helen Wilton with a foil (a type of fencing sword). Dusenbury said it was untrue.[32]

Olentangy Park Stock


The Olentangy stock company included:

  • Olive Oliver
  • Eugene Moore
  • Algernon Tassin
  • Frederic L. Power
  • Harry Mestayer
  • Walter Daniels
  • Louis Fierce
  • Ralph Chandler
  • Grace Fisher
  • Kate Blancke
  • Helen Wilson
  • Pearl Harris
  • Gladys Wilcox
  • Meta Brittian
  • Scott Craven
  • Jane Darra
  • W.T. Ellwanger
  • Ada Gifford
  • Victoria Bliss
  • Jane Daniels
  • George Ober
  • Lawrence Grattan
  • Gabriel Utterson
  • Vail De Vernon
  • Adeline Ober
  • George T. Neiswender
  • Lillie May Crawford


The stock company started off rocky by beginning an hour late for their first performance and having too long of breaks between acts, forcing the orchestra to play as many as three songs while the stage was being set.[33]

Dates Performance Writer Notes
May 26-June 1, 1902 "The Charity Ball" David Belasco [34]
June 2-8, 1902 "Lady Windermere's Fan" [35]
June 9-15, 1902 "A Gilded Fool" Henry Guy Carleton for Nat Goodwin [36]
June 16-22, 1902 "The Banker's Daughter" [37]
June 23-29, 1902 "The Butterflies" Henry Guy Carleton [38]
June 30-July 6, 1902 "The Nominee" Leander Richardson [39]
July 7-13, 1902 "Ingomar the Barbarian" Maria Lovell (translator) [40]
July 14-20, 1902 "Friends" Edwin Milton Royle [41]
July 21-27, 1902 "All the Comforts of Home" William Gillette [42]
July 28-August 3, 1902 "A Chalk Mark" Algernon Tassin [43]
August 4-10, 1902 "Featherbrain" Minnie Maddern Fiske [23][44]
August 11-17, 1902 "A Social Highwayman" Mary Stone & Richard Mansfield (editor) [45]
August 18-24, 1902 "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" [46]
August 25-31, 1902 "David Garrick" T.W. Robertson [47][48]
September 1-7, 1902 "A Wife's Honor" Lawrence Marston [49]
September 8-14, 1902 "A Cricket on the Hearth" Charles Dickens [4]
September 15-21, 1902 "Chatterton" [50]
September 15-21, 1902 "Two on the Red" [50]
September 15-21, 1902 "Sweathearts" [50]

Outdoor Performances and Stunts

Starting Wednesday, June 25, 1902, Professor Lawrence H. Kenner performed hypnotism on crowds every night.[51]

From July 8-12, the Spotted Elk's Indian Village and Wild West Show performed in the afternoon and evening. The performers also performed water sports. Their camp was located behind the theater across the Olentangy River.[40][41] One of the performers fell from their horse while riding near Rich and High streets and injured her leg.[52]


Signor A. Liberati's Famous Military Band and Concert Company, assisted by opera singers, performed twice daily during opening week.[2] The band consisted of 40 musicians, and the opera singers included Signor Guillio Di Santis and Madame Cleopatra Vicini. Liberati was a cornet player and a leading band and orchestra leader.[53][1]

Phinney's United States Band of 40 musicians played at Minerva Park in the afternoons and Olentangy Park in the evenings starting July 14.[54]


List of Activities


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Olentangy Park: Opening Week." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 11 May 1902. Pg. 16.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ad. Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 4 May 1902. Pg. 16.
  3. "Olentangy Park: Opening of the Season." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 19 May 1902. Pg. 9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Olentangy Park: A Wife's Honor." Saturday Columbus Dispatch. 6 September 1902. Pg. 9.
  5. "Brevities." Thursday Columbus Dispatch. 15 May 1902. Pg. 5.
  6. "Power Gave Out." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 19 May 1902. Pg. 5.
  7. "After Olentangy Park." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 26 May 1902. Pg. 7.
  8. "Police Court." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 4 August 1902. Pg. 7.
  9. "Malicious Destruction Charged." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 4 August 1902. Pg. 5.
  10. "Brevities." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 24 March 1902. Pg. 7.
  11. "Justices' Court." Saturday Columbus Dispatch. 12 April 1902. Pg. 7.
  12. "H.T. Chittenden Sued." Friday Columbus Dispatch. 13 June 1902. Pg. 7.
  13. "Mrs. Burgher's Note." Wednesday Columbus Dispatch. 23 July 1902. Pg. 7.
  14. "Color Line Drawn." Thursday Columbus Dispatch. 17 July 1902. Pg. 6.
  15. "Olentangy Park Fence." Thursday Columbus Dispatch. 16 January 1902. Pg. 5.
  16. "Public Property." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 3 August 1902. Pg. 5.
  17. Saturday Columbus Dispatch. 16 August 1902. Pg. 5.
  18. Tuesday Columbus Dispatch. 28 October 1902. Pg. 8.
  19. "Court Notes." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 17 November 1902. Pg. 5.
  20. Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 13 July 1902. Pg. 8.
  21. "A Fatal Ride." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 14 July 1902. Pg. 8.
  22. "Jenkins Leaves Hospital." Thursday Columbus Dispatch. 30 October 1902. Pg. 6.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Olentangy Park—Tassin's New Comedy." Friday Columbus Dispatch. 1 August 1902. Pg. 7.
  24. Ad. Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 27 July 1902. Pg. 17.
  25. A Jolly Picnic." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 3 August 1902. Pg. 12.
  26. Red, White, and Blue." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 15 September 1902. Pg. 9.
  27. Campbell, Alex. "Olentangy Park Chronology." Clintonville History by Shirley Hyatt. Published 18 July 2018. https://clintonvillehistory.com/wp-content/images/web-images-2018-07-18-alex-campbell/olentangy%20park%20chronology2.pdf
  28. Ad. Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 11 May 1902. Pg. 16.
  29. Ad. Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 25 May 1902. Pg. 16.
  30. "Musicians in Arms." Tuesday Columbus Dispatch. 27 May 1902. Pg. 7.
  31. "Park Orchestras." Saturday Columbus Dispatch. 14 June 1902. Pg. 7.
  32. "Brevities." Wednesday Columbus Dispatch. 18 June 1902. Pg. 6.
  33. "Olentangy Park: Charity Ball." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 26 May 1902. Pg. 9.
  34. Ad. Saturday Columbus Dispatch. 24 May 1902. Pg. 9.
  35. "Olentangy Park: Lady Windermere's Fan." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 1 June 1902. Pg. 26.
  36. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 8 June 1902. Pg. 26.
  37. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 16 June 1902. Pg. 9.
  38. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 23 June 1902. Pg. 9.
  39. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 29 June 1902. Pg. 9.
  40. 40.0 40.1 "Olentangy Park." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 6 July 1902. Pg. 15.
  41. 41.0 41.1 "Amusements—Olentangy." Saturday Columbus Dispatch. 12 July 1902. Pg. 3.
  42. "Olentangy Park: All the Comforts of Home." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 20 July 1902. Pg. 15.
  43. "Olentangy Park." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 27 July 1902. Pg. 17.
  44. "Olentangy Park: The Chalk Mark." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 3 August 1902. Pg. 15.
  45. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 10 August 1902. Pg. 15.
  46. "Amusement Addendum." Wednesday Columbus Dispatch. 13 August 1902. Pg. 7.
  47. "Olentangy Park: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Thursday Columbus Dispatch. 21 August 1902. Pg. 11.
  48. "Olentangy Park: David Garrick" Monday Columbus Dispatch. 25 August 1902. Pg. 9.
  49. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 31 August 1902. Pg. 31.
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 "Olentangy Park: Cricket on the Hearth." Wednesday Columbus Dispatch. 10 September 1902. Pg. 11.
  51. "Olentangy Park: Stock Company." Sunday Columbus Dispatch. 29 June 1902. Pg. 26.
  52. "Brevities." Tuesday Columbus Dispatch. 8 July 1902. Pg. 10.
  53. "Olentangy Park." Monday Columbus Dispatch. 5 May 1902. Pg. 11.
  54. "Olentangy Park: Phinney's U.S. Band." Wednesday Columbus Dispatch. 16 July 1902. Pg. 11.