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 Hugo's Circus City Museum and Park Website
Bringing Our Circus History to Life, Hugo, OK

 Fulton Family

The Fulton Family is SPECIAL with capital letters. I've known of them for a long time, but I've only got to know them recently. I knew they were on circus, not that they all were on circus. I met Michael Fulton on volunteer projects, and asked if I could write about his family. So, here we are. The Jack and Barbara Fulton family is based in Hugo, OK. They had 5 children, 4 sons, Jack, Michael, Dana & Randy, and 1 daughter, Lisa. Jack and Barbara raised their family on circus. The Fulton family history has not always been circus. They have always been Choctaw.

Their grandfather, Jeff Fulton, was a US Marshall in the early 1900's. Jeff is pictured in a mural in the Choctaw Nation Museum (Photo). Complete Records of Choctaws at that time have gone missing. We must rely on memories and stories as Native Americans done for centuries.

Their father, Jack Lloyd Fulton, was growing up at Goodland Academy, near Hugo, OK (Circus City). There must have been circus/saw dust in the air causing Jack to run away and join a circus. He hopped a ride on a freight train to Kansas where he joined Kelly Miller. Jack was a natural with animals. He worked with mostly horses and elephants. The animals each had special transportation needs. Since a circus moves to a new location every day this is essential for circus operation. Jack became Transportation Superintendent. He was responsible for the operation and maintenance of all, 35-50, trucks to move the circus.

Their Mother, Barbara June Freydenall, joined Kelly Miller when she was 18 years old. Barbara’s introduction to circus was not as exciting as Jack’s. She was a niece of DR and Isla Miller, Owners of Kelly Miller Circus; circus/sawdust was in her blood. Barbara started as a showgirl (photo). She learned her talents were better suited to cooking, costume designing and elephant blanket making. These jobs are not glamorous but the results, costumes & blankets, are glamorous. She would cook for more than 100 people or more, all working on circus. Costumes usually had thousands of sequins, all sewn on by hand. The elephant blankets were very large. They would probably cover a pickup truck.

Jack and Barbara both worked in the background of circus operations. They met and married. Their family had the benefit of an extended family, all on circus. Everyone helps each other, like a neighborhood. Unlike a neighborhood they move their home to a new location every day for about 220 days each year. Growing up on circus the children learned all aspects of circus business.

The boys like their dad, have a talent for working with animals. Lisa like her mom has a talent for costume and show design. Since retiring from circus Jack, Mike and Dana have been called upon for special animal needs: Providing an elephant for a promotional event; Transporting a tiger to a zoo; Tracking an animal that gets loose, elephants, tigers, etc; and filling in when and where needed during circus season. The Fulton family did not get star billing, but as D. R. Miller said "The show would not go on without the Fultons."

Jack and Barbara would be proud of their children and grand children. They are all Choctaw with “sawdust” (circus) in their blood. The more I learn about Choctaw and circus they go good together.

OSU interviewed Michael Fulton as part of a circus oral history project. You can see Michael tell the stories much better than I can at their web site,
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