Our Town has circus secret in its history

Published 06/26 2013 06:39PM

Updated 06/26 2013 06:41PM

PETERSBURG -- A lot of Central Illinois history revolves around Abraham Lincoln, but as WCIA-3's Ashley Michels shows us, Our Town Petersburg has something a little more unique hiding in its history books.

When you come to Petersburg, you'll see a lot of history. But, there's one piece of it you have to dig a little deeper to find. It lives on with Jan Costello.

"My grandparents both traveled with the circus. They traveled with Ringling Brother and Barnum and Bailey, but probably the most exciting part of their circus career was they performed in Petersburg."

Not only performed, Dan and Kit Kelly actually ran their own Kelly Brothers Circus in town with some of the biggest acts in the business.

"It was an intersection for two major railroads so it was like the perfect spot for people who traveled with other circuses like Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey to come here and practice in the winter."

So, in the late 1800's and early 1900's, Our Town Petersburg became a circus hotspot. Dan Kelly was a clown. His wife, Kit, had her own act called Rolling Globe. Together, they treated locals to big adventures under the big top.

"It's a place where people went to have fun and see a lot of exciting circus acts and clowns and animals."

A place where people could trade in their everyday lives for something a little more adventurous.

"That's exactly what the circus was for people in Petersburg. It was fun. It was magical. It was adventure. It was the greatest show on earth!"

Those are just some of Jan's pictures of her circus family. You can see a lot more at the Menard County Historical Society.

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