Use the smaller-sized text Use the larger-sized text Use the very large text

Dictionary of Wisconsin History

Or Search Everything...
Search All Terms:

Search All Fields:

Search Results for: Keyword: 'circus'

Term: Scotch Giant (F.W. Shadick)


Popular name of Frederick W. Shadick (1813-1854) who emigrated from Cornwall about 1842 with his wife Jane Grey (1810-1854). Both were more than seven feet tall and were exhibited by P.T. Barnum in 1845 alongside Gen. Tom Thumb as "Mr. and Mrs. Randell, Giants."

In 1849 they moved to Cottage Inn, near Belmont in southwestern Wisconsin, where they farmed, worked in the local pottery factory, and Fred drove ox teams hauling lead between Helena and Galena. He was 7 feet 4 inches tall, weighed 370 pounds and his shoes were 4 inches wide and 13 ½ long. He could pick up an 80-lb. chunk of lead with one hand, carry fence-rails like other people carry fishing poles, and lift a full 400-lb. whiskey barrel with his fingertips. Once, when they needed a dozen eggs, Fred was asked how he'd carry them home. "Guess I can get 'em all in here," he replied, cupping the palm of his hand.

Often subjected to ridicule in public, the Shadicks filled their stone cottage with books and spent their leisure hours alone during the fall, winter, and spring. But each summer they supplemented their income by traveling as a circus sideshow, Fred under the stage name, "The Scotch Giant." On July 4, 1854, Fred died of a stroke while on tour in Indiana with Franconi¿s Hipperdrome Circus, and Jane died a few months later. Initially buried near their home in Cottage Inn, there remains were moved in 1895 to the cemetery in the nearby village of Rewey.

[Source: Wisconsin Historical Collections 13:362; Madison Democrat, Aug 14, 1920; Knebel, Melva and Linda Fine. In the Shadows of the Mines: the Village of Rewey, Wisconsin, 1880-1980... ([Dodgeville, Wis.]: Dodgeville Chronicle, 1980).]
  • Questions about this page? Email us
  • Email this page to a friend
select text size Use the smaller-sized textUse the larger-sized textUse the very large text