Marie Louise Brown (1860-1924), known professionally as Little Mollie Brown, and later as simply Miss Mollie Brown, inherited her great skill from her mother, the renowned bareback rider Madame Louise Tourniare. The German born Louise Ciseck was apprenticed at an early age to the Tourniaire family, beginning her trick-riding career at the age of five. After wowing Europe and marrying Francois Tourniare, the entire troupe moved to America in 1846.
After the death of Francois, Madame Tourniaire married her second husband, circus musician William C. Brown, and settled in Bedminster, where Little Mollie was born on May 17, 1860.
|1872 Newspaper Ad featuring Little Mollie Brown in the center of the page|
Mollie debuted with her own act at the age of five, thrilling audiences with her strength and skill as a bareback equestrienne. She toured with numerous circuses throughout the 1860s and early 1870s, receiving prominent billing and acclaim wherever she appeared.
|1874 newspaper ad|
In 1873 she astounded the circus world by becoming the first female equestrian to perform a somersault on a moving horse from a standing position. The feat delighted audiences and brought Mollie to a whole new level of fame - one that sustained her career for another decade, through her teenage years and into adulthood.
|1884 newspaper ad|
Mollie Brown died in Philadelphia in 1924, leaving two daughters and a legacy of skill and daring unequaled during her lifetime and beyond.