Thursday, September 20, 2007


Photos and commentary courtesy of Twilia

Photos and info on Merlin "Shorty" Hinkle from his niece...


My father, his brother, died when I was a child so we lost track of Merlin. Didn't know he was known as "Shorty" until about 2 weeks ago. I was desperate for genealogy, searching for clues and I remembered a recent story my brother told me about when he was a Pennsylvania State Trooper back in the 60's.

He came across a circus truck that had broken down on its way to Philadelphia. In those days there were no cell phones and it was quite a distance to a telephone. He called his station and then waited with the truck to make certain help would arrive. The driver thanked him and requested his name. When he noticed the name Hinkle he said the only one he ever knew with that name was a clown with them by the name of Shorty. My brother knew that had to be Merlin!!!! He never got to go to the circus in Philly but wished he had.

So I was thinking last week I haven't found anything on "Merlin Hinkle" so I tried "Shorty Hinkle". And voila!!!!!!! What a find!!!! So thank you and Bill for providing the Hinkle family with Shorty's adventures. We can now follow him through time.

The circus provided him with a wonderful life and family that otherwise he would have never had.

He was born Nov. 13, 1905 in Mt. Carmel, PA. The son of Amelia Hepler, daughter of Pitman, PA. farmers, and Joseph Oliver Hinkle, an anthracite coal miner. His mother died in a house fire when he was 3 yrs old. From the time he was 6 until he joined the circus he was raised by his mother's family on the Hepler farm.

He was a flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz.

When he became ill in the 70's he returned to PA to live with his brother in Ashland, but he hated the cold weather so returned to Florida 1974 or 1975. He died in February 1977 in Hillsborough, FL.

I have his social security info but the date must be wrong as I can't find a death certificate from Florida or an obituary.

The pictures above are from relatives. We assume the tall short haired brunette was Merlin's wife as that is how they described her. She was introduced to relatives as "Billy". No other pictures. No other info.

I got the name Bellilia from the article in Bandwagon (May-June 2006)

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