Hugo was once known as Circus City when, at the height of traveling circuses, dozens of circuses called the town their winter headquarters. There are still three circuses remaining. Circus
performers traveled the world and for many, Hugo was the closest thing they had to a home town. For some, Mt. Olivet Cemetery was their final stop. A section of the cemetery was created just for these special performers and staff. Called Showmen’s Rest, it is marked by a dancing elephant and the inscription, “A TRIBUTE TO ALL SHOWMEN UNDER GOD’S BIG TOP.”
Many of the headstones reflect the occupations of those buried here. Some are obvious – some less so. A wagon wheel with a missing nut marks the grave of circus manager Ted Bowman. Fly-by-night operations would often sneak out of a town in the middle of the night without paying their bills. It became custom for the local sheriff to take a lug nut from a wheel on the office wagon. When all the bills were paid, the nut was returned — hence the expression “making the nut.”
Another special section, Bull Riders’ Reprieve, honors those rodeo cowboys. Famous bull riders Freckles Brown and Lane Frost are buried here.