... and the Igorrote Villagers


Dating from 1889, East End Park was a private park and a community gathering place for Memphis.  It was the area's most elaborate entertainment complex and featured a lake, a music and dance Pavilion, a beer garden, swimming pool, roller skating rink, games, fireworks shows, a theatre with vaudeville performances, and amusement park rides which included the "Pippin" Roller Coaster.  There was also a carousel, miniature railway, huge circle swings, along with 23 other amusements.  The East End Streetcar line purchased the old 50 acre McLean property in 1889 and started this park.  At first it was just a bayou where folks could fish, but it grew...and grew.  The park was bordered by Poplar, Cooper, Madison, and Tucker. 

East End Map

1889 Article


East End Lake Dance Pavilion Music Pavilion 1900 Lake 1900

For many years East End was a favorite destination for Memphians.   The dance pavilion at the park was called the Chrysanthemum Ballroom.  Prominent charitable organizations sponsored dances here and one could see the same crowd as at the Country Club or the Hunt and Polo Club, mingling with "ordinary" citizens.  The Royal Hawaiian Band was a big attraction and the pavilion vied with the Chisca Hotel ballroom as a tango palace.


Royal Hawaiian Band -1906

Pavilion 1895 East End entrance Location Renovated "entrance"





East End Park had been moderately successful when it opened in 1889, but after a renovation in 1894 it became very popular.  This renovation added incandescent lamps, flower gardens, brightly colored awnings, new boats on the lake, and the amusement "thrill rides".  The East End Streetcar's Dummy Line" ran directly to the park, from downtown along Madison Avenue to Cooper Street then east on Young Avenue to the park. 


Dummy Line        


But the city did such a remarkable job of hiding its history that practically no one would have known about East End Park today were it not for a postcard that regularly shows up for sale on Ebay (A boat on the lake at East End Park).  This web site discovered one of these cards two years ago and that began our quest to find out about the previously unknown East End Park.  We've discovered a lot since that postcard from 1907.


East End Lake ...1907


East End Park 1892 East End Park 1892 East End Boat dock 1895 East End Walk-Tower 1907

Skating Rink ???

LLake and Dance Hall

East End Lake 1901

Original Postcard Photo 1906




Three of the East End Park's most popular rides were the Pippin Roller Coaster, the Carousel, and the Giant Swings.  Each of these is pictured at the park in the photos below.   The Pippin Roller coaster was built on location by John A. Miller and Harry C. Baker from pine wood.  

Pippin 1910


Carousel 1911 Giant Swings Twister Ride Miniature Train 1910 Miniature Train 1910

Miniature cars 1910

Mini-cars -Pippin-Carousel

Joe Bennett

1909 Confederate Vets Reunion


Souvenir Photos 1906

Souvenir Photo 1906

Souvenir Photo 1906

Souvenir Photo 1908


Souvenir Photos Souvenir  1911 Carnival 1912 Performer Performers at Theatre

This great photo of the Pippin Roller Coaster was taken at East End Park in 1909 during city festivities for the United Confederate Veterans Reunion which was held in Memphis.  When East End closed the coaster was sold to the city of Memphis.  It was then dismantled and relocated next to the race track in Montgomery Park  - now known as the Fairgrounds.  This fact is not disputed.

Pippin 1909


 It is disputed that the Carousel and the Giant Swings also appeared at the new Fairgrounds.  Memphis says that the Carousel was originally located in Chicago and after a fire it was returned to the Dentzel Co in Philadelphia and Memphis purchased it from Dentzel in 1923.  We have now learned that when the Carousel was completely renovated in 2016-17 it was discovered that all original  mechanical parts were from the 1920s which proves the carousel from East End Park could not be the Grand Carousel.

Mr/Mrs. H.  C. Boaz 1912  

Additional carousel proof:  Look closely at the East End Park Carousel horses in the photo on the left.  The jumpers are stationery.  The Grand Carousel jumpers move up and down.  See the detail of the East End Park horses in the photo on the right.

East End Carousel              

Detail-Stationery Horses




A big drawing card, which contributed to the success of East End park was ALCOHOL.  There was a beer garden on the terrace in front of the Pavilion.  The local beers from Tennessee Brewing Company sold for 5 cents a glass.  Rye whiskey, also bottled in Memphis, sold for 15 cents a glass.   In addition one could order gin, brandy, wine, or even soda pop.


Typical Beer Garden    


In 1903, Col. John D. Hopkins took over East End Park.  Hopkins was one of the most colorful characters to ever hit Memphis.  He had opened vaudeville houses in Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, and Kansas City.  In Memphis, he took over the Lyceum Theatre and the Grand Opera House, renaming it Hopkins Grand Opera.  It was inevitable that he would develop East End into a major venue for vaudeville. 


Col. Hopkins




Among the featured performers at East End were the triumphant Neely Zouaves drill team in exhibition, juggler Mexican Kurtz, Speedy, who dived from a high tower into an oil tank, Little Dolly Theobold, as well as the enacted naval battles of Admiral Dewey's on the lake.   The interesting  photo on the right shows a posted ad for East End Park on busy Main Street. 


East End Advertising


A B. Morrison

Little Dolly Theobold Butler Ladies Brass Band Felix Adler 1896 Lion... Zouaves Drill Team

Speedy > < Speedy Article Mexican Juggler Sadi Alfarabi Geo Alexander Joe Flynn

Fred Sullivan

The two Pucks Martin Bergen Mabel Carew Harry Webb

5 Society Belles      



Billboard 1909

Gertrude Breton

Ad 1910

Review 1890

Review 1910





The park became so popular that another Amusement Park called FAIRYLAND, opened in 1906, just up the road from East End on Poplar, where the Parkview Hotel is now located.  It had a few rides and a 2000 seat theatre called "Fairyland Theatre".  It burned after two seasons and was not rebuilt.  Now, it's also another memory of which most Memphians are unaware.


Fairyland Theatre 1906



East End Park is listed in the Memphis Directories from 1891 to 1919.  When prohibition became law, the Golden Days of the park were numbered.   In 1913,  the park closed and in 1914 was placed in the hands of a receiver.  The Dance Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1923.  The land was sold in 1924 and the lake was filled in.  By 1936 only the swimming pool and roller rink were left.  The Billboard item on the right shows the Rink and the Pool were still in use in 1945.


Billboard 1945


1891 Directory 1910 1914 1919 1914 Variety "Mphs- Black-White"

1912 Standard History

1945 Ad



2014:  Suddenly folks began asking about East End Park in Memphis.

 In October 2014, Claire Prentice's  book "Lost Tribe of Coney Island" was published.  It's " incredible true story of the Igorrotes, a group of "headhunting, dog-eating savages" from the Philippines, who were taken to the St. Louis Fair and then to New York's Coney Island  in 1905 by the charming, opportunistic doctor-turned-showman Truman K. Hunt.  There they appeared as "human exhibits" at Coney Island's Luna Park.  Millions of fair-goers delighted in their tribal dances and rituals, near nudity, tattoos, and tales of headhunting.  The Igorrotes became a national sensation - written up in newspaper headlines, portrayed in cartoons, and even featured in advrtising - all of which was fueled by Truman's brilliant publicity stunts.  "


"By the end of that first summer season in New York, Truman's sideshow scheme had made him a rich man.  But Truman was a man who liked to live large, and his fortune was dwarfed only by his ability to spend it.  Soon he would be on the run, with the tribe in his care, across the US, pursued by ex-wives, creditors, and the tireless agents of American justice."

Truman Hunt  

Luna Park


Commercial Appeal writer Michael Lollar contacted the Historic-Memphis website and inquired about our knowledge of the Igorrotes at East End Park.  He was planning a major newspaper article about this unknown event in Memphis History.  But it was the first time we had heard about the Igorrotes, and we had no knowledge that they were ever in Memphis.    Mike moved on and wrote his article for the Commercial Appeal.  And we began several days of digging out any Memphis connection or  information about the Igorrotes. 
AND we found our connections ...


Michael Lollar


It appears that since Col. Hopkins had theatre interests in St. Louis, he visited the Igorrotes exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.  Showman Hopkins met showman Truman Hunt and a deal was struck to bring the Igorrotes to the natural park setting of Memphis East End Park after their appearance at Coney Island.  Hunt now saw the potential for touring the tribes and convinced the U.S. to back the tours.  So late one night in 1905 in the dead of night, he took one half of the tribes-people from the Coney Island exhibit and boarded a train for Memphis.


In Memphis the Igorrotes pitched camp at East End  Park in July 1905 and stayed until December.  They were a BIG hit in Memphis.  For 25 cents, folks could visit the "human zoo" surrounded by a high Bamboo fence and they were fascinated as they watched the "savages" go about their daily routine in scanty clothing.   And Truman Hunt was greatly impressed with the success his tribe was experiencing in Memphis.

Hunt and Igorrotes

Villagers 1905

Villagers 1904


1909 Ad

Advrtising Poster


Every newspaper in the country was full of stories about the "dog-eating" Igorrotes.  It wasn't long before Hunt thought about a U.S. sponsored tour.  He split the New York tribe into two groups and brought in a third group from the Philippines.   His groups criss-crossed America stopping at more than 50 cities and towns, but all was not well. 


Omaha News 1904

Chicago 1906



Paducah 1906

Philadelphia 1904


NY Eagle   


Hunt was being accused of stealing $10,000 in wages from the tribes, and with using physical force to steal hundreds of dollars more which they had earned selling their handmade souvenirs.  The Pinkerton folks were now after him but the showman always managed to give them the slip.  His wife and ex-wives were also pursuing him.  In 1906 he was finally arrested on multiple charges of stealing from the Igorrotes tribe.  The alleged crime was said to have been committed while victims were members of the band of Igorrotes which were exhiited in East End Park in Memphis, July 1905.  Thus, the U. S. Government decides to hold Hunt's trial in Memphis - which was probably regretted ...


 Paducah 1905


Judge John Moss was in charge of the Memphis Trial.  Mike Lollar's Commercial Appeal article covers the outcome.  "Juries convicted Hunt on two robbery counts, but before Hunt could begin serving his combined sentence of a year and half in the Shelby County workhouse, Judge John Moss dismissed the jury verdicts, granting Hunt a new trial. Hunt beseeched Elkís Lodge members to use their influence to free him while he awaited retrial. Finally, the new trial ended in a mistrial. "


Judge Moss


"By then, the War Department, believing it could not get a fair hearing in Memphis, filed charges against Hunt in New Orleans. Deputies arrested him before he could leave the courtroom, but Huntís attorney immediately appealed to a second judge, Jacob Galloway, to release Hunt so that he could await trial as a free man. Galloway at first denied the request, but Huntís attorney then met with the judge behind closed doors. Galloway then returned to the courtroom and inexplicably ruled that Hunt be released to await trial."


Judge Galloway


"Hunt and a former partner quickly fled, hiding on the outskirts of Memphis to avoid being arrested. Before he could be tried in New Orleans, the War Department came under public pressure because of the more than $65 million annual cost to occupy the Philippines. It had cost more than $8,000 to investigate and prosecute Hunt and to send the Igorrotes back to the Philippines. Rather than spending even more on an uncertain outcome, the government dismissed the charges."     ... Michael Lollar


The Igorrotes "human zoo" had been the greatest show in town.  But after the trial, the memory of their visit has all but disappeared from the public consciousness (and the history books).   Who is civilized and who is savage?



Although the relationship with Truman Hunt had ended, other Igorrote remained and toured the United States and the world for a number of years under the management of Richard Schneidewind.  They appear to have fared a little  better than those who Hunt defrauded and mistreated.  Schneidewind didn't mistreat the Igorrote, he was just incompetent.





No actual photos of the Igorrote Village in Memphis' East End Park have surfaced ... yet!   The photos below are of the Igorrote Villages  from various cities from 1904 to 1909.  They are all quite similar so the Memphis village probably looked very much like these photos.    If photos have been found for many other cities where the Igorrotes were exhibited, it's for sure photos were taken when they were at East End Park.  They will be found!


Baltimore Chicago Coney Island San Francisco Portland

Seattle Seattle Seattle Seattle Seattle

St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis



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